Gary’s Glimpses: Historical women leaders, including those in Rio Rancho - Albuquerque Journal

Gary’s Glimpses: Historical women leaders, including those in Rio Rancho

Gary Herron

It’s called New Mexico History Day, but nobody can tell you what day that is.

It’s more of a celebration of the state’s history and it’s got two divisions: the Junior Division is for students in grades 6-8, while the Senior Division is for grades 9-12. There are five categories in which students may submit entries: documentary, exhibit, performance, website and paper.

The celebration is part of the National History Day organization.

National History Day’s mission?

“The future of democracy depends on an inspired, thoughtful and informed citizenry,” according to the organization’s website. “Historical understanding is crucial to that process. National History Day teaches essential historical accuracy that motivates students to secure the future of democracy.”

This year’s theme in New Mexico is “Communication in History: The Key to Understanding.”

That said, the New Mexico Humanities Council recently sent me — no, I’m not a contestant in the project competition — a 92-page book, “Herstory: Women in American History,” in conjunction with the student competition. It’s obviously seeking students to take more of an interest in what women have done for the U.S.

After all, there’s a woman vying to be the next vice president of the country, and another seeking a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The book has a wealth of suggestions and ideas for any student interested in famous women and their contributions. (The book is yours if you are the first to drop by our office and ask for it. It practically does a project for you.)

I looked into the book and found the names of 20 great American women. As much as I’m a U.S. history buff, I only recognized the names of five of them: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Barton, Annie Oakley, Shirley Chisholm and Sally Ride.

The one I’m most familiar with, namely through my passion for the Old West, is Annie Oakley; I recently read a biography about her.

Yes, I agree; that’s pretty dismal. How many of the remainder are you familiar with?

They are Anne Marbury Hutchinson, Mercy Otis Warren, Sojourner Truth, Dorothea Lynde Dix, Juliette Gordon Low, Ida Wells-Barrnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, Frances Perkins, Jeannette Rankin, Alice Paul, Marian Anderson, Fannie Lou Hamer, Maria Tallchief, Patsy Takemoto Mink and Dolores Huerta.

Many of them are activists; you know Sally Ride was an astronaut, and Low founded the Girl Scouts while Barton founded the American Red Cross.

Huerta is the only one still alive and, coincidentally, the only one born in New Mexico. Here’s the 411 on her, thanks to Wikkipedia: “Huerta was born on April 10, 1930, in the mining town of Dawson. (She was) the second child and only daughter of Juan Fernández and Alicia Chávez. When Huerta was young, she would hear her father tell stories about union organizing. After her parents divorced when she was 3 years old, she seldom saw her father. He stayed in New Mexico, and served in the state legislature in 1938…

“Her mother’s generous actions during Dolores’s childhood provided the foundation for her own non-violent, strongly spiritual stance. … Huerta’s community activism began when she was a student at Stockton High School. Huerta was active in numerous school clubs … and remembered a school teacher accusing her of stealing another student’s work and, as a result, giving her an unfair grade, an act she considers to be rooted in racial bias. Having experienced marginalization during childhood because she was Hispanic, Huerta grew up with the belief that society needed to be changed…

“In 1955, Huerta along with Fred Ross co-founded and organized the Stockton Chapter of the Community Service Organization, which fought for economic improvements for Latinx/Mexican/Chicano migrant farm workers.”

Huerta would make a good subject for students, namely because of the New Mexico connection.

Now, at the age of 90, she’s running for mayor in San Diego!

But here are some other suggestions, if you want to follow the lives of New Mexico women: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Rio Rancho Public Schools Superintendent Sue Cleveland, any of the numerous female principals within RRPS or maybe one of the four females on the RRPS Board of Education: Catherine Cullen, Wynne Coleman, Noreen Scott or Amanda Galbraith (a 2000 graduate of Rio Rancho High School).

As a journalist, I can pass along this: It’s a lot easier to interview someone still alive than anyone deceased.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


NM's GOP files lawsuit over new congressional map
ABQnews Seeker
Suit asks judge to replace new ... Suit asks judge to replace new boundaries with a map proposed by the Citizen Redistricting Commit
COVID tests out there ... somewhere
ABQnews Seeker
Testing shortages are unnerving the public Testing shortages are unnerving the public
Insurers pushed to settle archdiocese abuse claims
ABQnews Seeker
Nearly 400 victims still in limbo ... Nearly 400 victims still in limbo four years after Santa Fe church filed for bankruptcy
New COVID-19 cases set a record for third straight ...
ABQnews Seeker
Officials say vaccines are lowering death ... Officials say vaccines are lowering death rates
ABQ officials push tough-on-crime bills
ABQnews Seeker
Legislation would increase penalties for firearms, ... Legislation would increase penalties for firearms, alter pretrial detention
Northern NM still recovering from damaging December storm
From the newspaper
Governor signs order for disaster declaration ... Governor signs order for disaster declaration in Taos County
Attorneys say MDC could not find inmates for hearings, ...
ABQnews Seeker
On Thursday, one of Ryan Villa's ... On Thursday, one of Ryan Villa's clients was supposed to appear at a pretrial detention hearing — by way of a tablet in a ...
Bill would set $15 minimum wage for state employees
ABQnews Seeker
Move could increase pay of 1,200 ... Move could increase pay of 1,200 workers
Watchdog group asks for online streaming of Senate committee
ABQnews Seeker
Pro tem president argues public won't ... Pro tem president argues public won't be interested
LFC report: Changing pretrial detention won’t lower crime
ABQnews Seeker
A new report by Legislative Finance ... A new report by Legislative Finance Committee analysts found that low arrest, prosecution and conviction rates may have more to do with the crime ...