Meet the Latina Voting Activist Who Will Soon Be on the U.S. Quarter
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 August 15.
HOW DID OTERO-WARREN CONTRIBUTE TO WOMEN’S POLITICAL RIGHTS?
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.
In the early 1920s, Otero-Warren served as a chairwoman of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs. As chairwoman, she worked toward progressive goals. Part of her work included persuading lawmakers to raise the age of consent from 16 to 18. She also worked to advance an act to provide for the care of dependent and neglected children.
In 1921, women were guaranteed the right to run for office in New Mexico by passage of an amendment to the state constitution. In 1922, Otero-Warren became the first Latina in the country to vie for a congressional seat, running as a Republican. Despite losing to Democrat James Hinkle by 9 percentage points, her ability to speak directly to nuevomexicanos made her candidacy highly visible.