Posted Date: 08/04/2022
Adelina “Nina” Otero-Warren was an activist who fought for women’s voting rights during the 20th century. She was the first Latina to run for Congress and the first Latina superintendent of the Santa Fe public schools. She is one of several women whose images are being featured on the U.S. quarter in 2022. The quarter in her honor is set to be released on Aug. 15, 2022. Here, Anna María Nogar, professor of Hispanic Southwest studies at the University of New Mexico, writes about Otero-Warren’s work and legacy.
Otero-Warren tirelessly advocated in Spanish and English for New Mexico to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. In order for a constitutional amendment to take effect, it must be ratified by three-fourths of all states.
In New Mexico, Otero-Warren implemented strategies advanced by the Congressional Union, a national organization established in 1913 to advocate for women’s right to vote. She lobbied state leaders to vote in favor of ratification. Since the first language of the vast majority of New Mexicans was Spanish, her bilingualism helped her work with opinion leaders across communities to keep suffrage and women’s rights front and center.
She was accompanied in her fight for women’s rights by fellow nuevomexicanas – as Otero-Warren and her colleagues referred to themselves – Soledad Chávez Chacón and folklorist Aurora Lucero. Together, these women worked to pave the way for future female leadership in the state. In 1922, for example, Chacón became the first Latina in the country to be elected to statewide office, serving as New Mexico’s secretary of state.