Sylvia Ramos Cruz

Sylvia Ramos Cruz shares the heroic story of how New Mexican women joined together and through great determination overcame tremendous obstacles to win the right to vote.

AIRED: January 18, 2020 | 0:27:12

Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:

Frederick Hammersley Foundation

This project is supported in part by an award from

New Mexico arts, a division of the Department of

Cultural Affairs, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Art works.

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>>Megan Kamerick: Sylvia Ramos Cruz, thank you for joining us.

>>Sylvia Ramos Cruz: Thank you so much for inviting me.

>>Kamerick: What were women up against in

gaining an equal vote?

>>Cruz: Oh, it was a long struggle, it took 72 years

from start to finish in 1920.

And really it was one, that they didn't have the

organizations way at the beginning.

Two, I think suffrage took off when they joined the

women's clubs movement because they had the

membership in all the states.

And, they then had to overcome ridicule at the

beginning, you know, how could women be interested in voting?

Are they smart enough to do so?

Why do they want to do something that's a dirty

job, like politics?

They were sometimes incarcerated, especially

when they started picketing in Washington

D.C. They were dragged off to jail, sometimes beaten there.

They also had to convince the employers that they

would be good employees, even though they wanted to vote.

And of course there were husbands that decided that

women that wanted to vote and be independent would

not be good mothers, so sometimes they lost their

children, through divorce.

>>Kamerick: How did the state constitution and

also our culture, our religion work against

getting women the vote here?

>>Cruz: The state constitution from 1910 is

very interesting, in those days a lot of Hispanic men

were powerful leaders in government, such as

Solomon Luna and also Octavian Larazolo, who

later on became governor.

And they wanted to make sure that the Spanish

speaking New Mexicans, New Mexicans of Hispanic

origins, would be able to keep the vote and to have

a part in politics, so they made the constitution

very hard to amend.

So to add an amendment that was a voting right,

that was solely men's right would have taken a

long time to do if at all.

Which is why Cary Chapman Catt became discouraged

and sort of decided that they were going to bypass

New Mexico because there was no way you could

change the constitution here.

Which of course then led to Alice Paul thinking of

it as this federal amendment thinking that we

could still do it because the people there, if the

women work to change the vote of their members in

congress, then that will get us the federal amendment.

So there was two different kinds of strategies.

>>Kamerick: Even though the women's clubs became

active here they tended to be mostly Anglo women.

>>Cruz: That is true.

I think about that time, maybe 1910, 56 percent of

the women in New Mexico were Hispana's and maybe

36 percent Anglos and yet the women's in the club

the women in the women's club movement were

primarily white women, Anglo women.

They were usually well-to-do, well-connected

to political and business families and have the time

to spend looking at these issues, however is not

that Hispana's were not were not active in communities.

They were not maybe part of these women's clubs in

general they belong to community organizations,

especially those through the church that allowed

them to do public work also.

>>Kamerick: What did women have to do to accomplish

suffrage here?

>>Cruz: One, to convince the LED the members of the

Congress in the Washington DC and then also the

members of the legislature here because they were

trying to make sure that when the amendment passed

in Congress then it would be able to be ratified in

the state also and to do that they had to write

letters so they had like avalanches of letters

going to you know to legislators.

And a woman, Ada McPherson Morley, an early

suffragists wrote probably even hundreds of letters

and then they had to go and go and speak directly

with a with the Senators.

For example when in 1915 there was a deputation of

about a hundred and fifty suffrages that went to

speak to Senator Catron, who was then in the Senate

but he was here in New Mexico and women went and

four of them spoke at his home.

One of them being Aurora Lucero, who was actually a

niece of Solomon Luna and cousin of Nina Terra Warren and

daughter of the first Secretary of State of New Mexico.

And she was a very skilled orator so, these women

came and they made their case before the senator

and his answer was one that he was not in favor

of women's suffrage that man had always been the hardy one.

Women have been the weaker ones that men have always

been the workers and providers and women have

been the ones to be the child bearers.

And so that he thought it would not work very well for women

to get the vote because they had different roles.

>>Kamerick: you mentioned Nina Otero Warren, she

played a key role in bringing Hispana women

into this movement.

>>Cruz: Yes, that is right she was in the Mexican

woman already in her mid-30s when Alice Paul

through the congressional Union recruited her to

work for suffrage in the state.

Alice Paul recognized and many other suffragettes,

I'm sure, that you needed to involve the

Spanish-speaking women the Spanish-speaking

population actually they not only wanted the women

they wanted to really make sure that men came over

and voted for suffrage.

Amina became very, very influential and she led

the congressional union for a while here.

She was also a member of the Women's Club in Santa

Fe, and she was also a member of a separate

suffrage organization, so she had different roles

but all of them geared towards getting women to vote here.

>>Kamerick: Why is it important to look at this history now?

>>Cruz: Well history is important because it

teaches us what happened in the past and it

sometimes gives us the tools to work towards the future.

Not only the tools that we can use, but also the

tools that we shouldn't use.

One thing we should not do which was really a very

apparent in the past is how some women were

excluded from the suffrage movement not only is it

Spanish but also Native Americans, African

Americans, Asian Americans, all of these

groups got the vote in 1920 because that's what

the Constitution says, but the facto they were not

able to exercise that right to vote.

So had they been pulled into the movement, I think

that would have brought about a more diverse and egalitarian

kind of an environment for women in which to vote.

But in the Roswell Daily Record, the paper, it was

really interesting because at the end it focuses on

five questions that they were asking women who

already had had the vote in many of their

surrounding states.

And in New Mexico, women had the vote in terms of

getting a school board selected right.

So one of the question was, have women used the

vote in the best way possible?

And the second question was, are women better off

working within party organizations or WIC

working you know Democratic or Republican

or working on their own as a you know a community of

women to get the policies would like enacted in place.

And both of those you know, questions are so

relevant today.

I tend to think you know, we have not used our boast

our boat wisely.

In some cases, we have been voting for the same

kind of candidates for a hundred years, mostly men.

And they have not many times look to the issues

that we would like addressed.

So maybe we should have been doing something different there.

And then in terms of working in partisan ways

maybe we should start thinking beyond those

boundaries because still there are so many issues

that women care about still you know equal pay

for equal work, pregnancy accommodations in the

workplace, all of those things that women care

about that are not being addressed and I'm sure

that women on the conservative and

progressive sides want to do something about it.

So, working across borders in a way is, I think a

better way to do it.

>>Kamerick: Clearly, We knowing this history would

inform a lot of what we need to think about now.

>>Cruz: Oh, yes I am learning a lot about that now.

Yes, it does actually because most things in the

world aren't new, you know we just tend to recognize

them over and over again.


Now that I'm president, let me tell you a little

about how I got here.

In my childhood, nobody would've thought that I

would become president.

Young Chautauqua comes from the

Chautauqua experience where one takes a historical character and

researches that figure and performs in character, in

costume, reenacting the life and experiences of

that historical character.

Hello, I'm Johnny Cash.

I hear the train a comin' It's rollin'

'round the bend

The wonderful thing about this program is that any kid can

be a Young Chautauqua scholar.

They just have to have the will and the desire to do

it and it's available to everyone.

I was traveling in Africa in early 1912.

Madame will be in a very grave accident.

I love acting and I love studying history, and I

heard about Chautauqua through a friend and once

we learned more about it, I knew that it was

something I wanted to try.

And I have been doing it for three years now and it

is a very, very fun experience.

They are performing at venues

around the region including the Washoe

County Library System, at various library locations,

and the scholars also perform at their schools

and in their community groups, in church groups,

to really hone their craft.

One of the things that our scholars enjoy the most is

sort of finding the right costume, the period

appropriate outfits, the eyeglasses, maybe a little

bit of talcum powder in the hair if they're

portraying an older character.

And they might work on a certain accent or a

certain pose or comportment to really

embody the character they're portraying.

I've just returned from my very first space mission.

I am indeed the first American woman into space.

This year I researched Edith Rosenbaum, she

survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

And she was also a fashion designer and she had a

very, very interesting life.

One of the great things about Chautauqua

that happens for the kids is that they do all this

research and then they also get to speak as a

scholar at the end of their performance.

So they give this monologue in character,

then they break character and the audience has an

opportunity to both ask the character questions and

then ask the scholar questions about their own research.

And the program is really transformative for kids.

We have kids come into our program that are

incredibly shy, so an important part of the

program is to learn how to speak publicly and to

deliver a monologue performance.

And so, the kids have to actually conquer their

fears, get on stage, and present their character to the public.

And it's a really transformative experience for them.

So it has this kind of twin purpose.

The research, cultivating a love of history, and a

sense of empathy for people who have lived

before them and who have done important things in our world.

Just finding somebody interesting who lived on

this Earth and being able to become them in a way is

a very interesting experience.

I learned that his life wasn't perfect at all, and

there were a lot of misfortunes and a lot of

hardships that he went through that kinda made

him who he was, and that kinda reflects on me to

make me think about what I want to do and what

choices I'm gonna make.

Researching with kids who share your same

interest is definitely a big thing that makes Young

Chautauqua a fun experience.

It's a learning opportunity for everybody.

Not only the kids who go through the program, but

also the audience members who get to see the

performances that the children do.

And it's also fun.


>>David Sobon: Most people, I think if you

take a look at the general population, they don't

normally go into museums.

They're not normally going in galleries, but we are

able to make art available for everybody to see in

any kind of setting.

The purpose of Wide Open Walls was not to only give

attention to the history of the murals in

Sacramento, but to make it really exciting and bring

in an international cast with, um, local artists.

We invited 12 international artists that

we knew from their styles of the art, the type of

painting that they did, that we would have a great balance.

And then it was a matter of mixing muralists that

have been creating for many years already in the

Sacramento market, and then we did something a

little bit sort of unique, we gave an opportunity to

artists that have never created a mural before.

And I think that might have been my favorite part

is seeing the sense of pride from some of our

local, um, and regional artists that had not

created on such a large scale.

We made a pretty big impact with 44 walls this

year, um, being the largest mural festival on

the West Coast.

But I think they have as much impact we don't

necessarily need to do as many.

There's always room for improvement of what the

future of the festival looks like.

But if you take a look at the impact of what we are

able to accomplish in, in a short 10 day period, um,

the amount of attention that it received, both

local and internationally, it was pretty spectacular.

We not only had a volunteer list.

We had a couple of volunteer coordinators.

Um, there was literally a hundred bodies running to

support the artists, to bring them food, to bring

them water, to make sure that they had all their supplies.

The support that it takes to do something like this

takes an army of volunteers.

We produced a 40 page guide.

We had maps both, um, online and in an app form,

so people were able to follow along and learn

something about the murals as they were touring.

I think one of the greatest success stories

of those tours is what the alley, the improv alley,

looks like on Sacramento right now.

It was probably known as one of the worst alleys.

We were able to get the alley paid and we created

seven brand new murals.

All the garbage cans were painted in the alley.

Um, even the grease trap, um, bins were painted and

there is now a, a 300 foot plus humanity mural with

just some incredible messaging, a gorgeous piece

of art, um, and six surrounding pieces of art, six other

murals, um, and it's now become a tourist destination.

>>Bike riders: Oh my God.

This is one of my favorites.


>>Sobon: Adding new landmarks, gathering

places, economic development, also, I mean

we put walls in areas that weren't necessarily the

best parts of town.

And our goal there was not just to make it more

beautiful, but to drive people into that area to

go look at the beautiful art whether they're

walking, riding their bikes, jumping off the

cars, they need to go have a place to take a break

and eat a meal and grab a cup of coffee.

Why the name Wide Open Walls?

I think it brings a lot of different ideas to a lot

of different people.

First off, it makes things a lot more beautiful and

that same concept of art for all is giving people

an opportunity for everybody to see it.

Whether you're driving down the road and all of a

sudden you're seeing something that's, uh, 18

stories tall that used to be a blank wall and be

able to identify specific areas of town and specific buildings.

There is new, modern, more contemporary artists that

are coming up with new designs and new ideas and

that's being enforced by incredible street art.

So I think the duplication factor of it happening,

um, whether it's Wide Open Walls in other cities or

just additional cities participating in these

types of events, I think the future looks really bright.

Art has the capacity to change things.

It changes people's attitude.

It changes their outlook.

It gives them hope.

It inspires them.

All of those things can come from art that's in a

public place that anybody can be exposed to.

You can have the worst day of your life and you can

walk by a piece of art that you've never seen

before and put on a big smile and go home happy.

How cool is that?

The gathering places, the economic development

aspect of it, of being able to put on art that makes

a difference to the community and brings people up.

How cool is that?

I mean it's just all about art for all.

Let's put, let's put art out there for everybody to enjoy.


>>Ken Hendricks: Lewis Hine said photographs

never lie, but liars can photograph.

Photographs never lie, but ours do (laughter).

We like to think of ourselves as pretty good liars sometimes


>>Larry Patchett: With integrity.

>> Hendricks: With integrity, yes.

>>Patchett: (laughter) >>Hendricks: Forced

perspective photography is basically shooting models

and making them look full size and fooling the eye.

We're taking twenty fourth scale models, bringing

them out into the world, and trying to make them

look as real as possible.

One twenty fourth scale model, what is it a half

inch equals one foot in the real world?

>>Patchett: Yeah, basically, if you're a

foot away from the model, you need to be 24 feet

away from the background.

>>Hendricks: We shoot a wide angle lens, which

gives you greater inherent depth of field and we also

shoot a very small aperture like F25, F29,

which gives you even more depth of field.

So everything is in focus, from a foot in front of

the camera to infinity, which really helps sell the illusion.

A little over two years ago, we started doing the

forced perspective photography.

Larry said, "well, you've got a camera and I've got some models.

Let's do this." And so we went out and tried it and

our first photos came out beautifully.

We've been having so much fun ever since.

>>Patchett: We're making very ephemeral dioramas

that don't last any longer than it takes us to take a

few shots and then it all goes back into the boxes in there.

What really seems to set ours apart is the quality

of Colorado light.

>>Hendricks: We've gotten quite a few comments on

our photos of how beautiful the blue sky is.

>>Patchett: And in a way, the secret to this is the props.

The first one we did was an ice wagon

[Ken Hendricks: Yeah] and I found little bitty blocks

of ice and made a set of ice tongs out of a

paperclip, sack of potatoes, a case of

Coca-Cola in the back of a pickup truck,

cobblestone street.

>>Hendricks: Posters.

>>Patchett: Fake lamps.

Some milk bottles on top of it.

It's that additional touch that makes it time travel

and helps fool your eye.

>>Hendricks: Every once in a while, I'll take a few

models out in the backyard and shoot 'em just to have

a like a catalog of which models we have available to us.

And I thought it would be a good idea to shoot a

behind the scenes shot of this to just kind of show people

how simple it is to get a really good shot of a model car.

So I took a cell phone photo of the setup and put

it up on Flickr and it went gangbusters.

The first weekend it was up, it got maybe eighty

five thousand views.

Now it's up to a hundred and five thousand views right now.

It's our most popular photo.

>>Patchett: Yeah, we spend all the trouble on

beautiful sets and beautiful models, expensive cameras,

and our most popular shot was done with a cell phone.

>>Hendricks: People from all over the world are

seeing our photos and, and, uh, that's really quite an honor.

When I bring my models, I usually dust 'em off at

home, but Larry lets me dust off his models.

So I get out a little makeup brush and, and dust off

all the dust because the dust is actually full scale dust.

It doesn't look like 24 scale dust.

More full scale dust I can get off of, off of the,

the small cars, the, the less Photoshop work I have to do.

>>Patchett: You got it.

You got it.

>>Hendricks: I have spent hours kind of fixing dust on models.


We're time traveling, and we want

people to kind of travel back to that time with us

and remember what it used to be like.

And we're using models from the 30s, 40s, and 50s

and setting up in front of buildings that were around

at that time.

We try to make everything as authentic as possible.

When I was a kid, we had a, a late 40s Studebaker

Champion that we rode around in and then we upgraded

to a 54 Chevy and thought we were living, living large.

>>Patchett: I grew up with Packard's in the garage,

but they were already history by the time I was

old enough to know what I was looking at.

This car is a time machine.

Like it doesn't say DeLorean.

You won't find a flux capacitor anywhere under

the hood or the tail light.

But it's a way to travel through time, which in

short is what we do with the forced perspective.

We're able to go back in time to an era, uh, that

evokes nostalgia in the people looking at the

pictures or just a sense of whimsy.

>>Hendricks: Some of these photos that we take just

bring back memories and the younger people kind of

get to see what, you know, what it was like back in the day.

>>Patchett: This car has four ashtrays and not a

cup holder to be found

>>Ken Hendricks: (laughter)].

So just in subtle little ways like that of the

different way people viewed the world in the

1950s than we see the world now, and our time

travel efforts help let us highlight little bits and

pieces of both worlds.

>>Hendricks: That's, that's hilarious


>>Larry Patchett: (laughter)]. We both love old cars

and we both love photography, and when you can combine

a passion with a creative outlet, that's gold, and

we're just having the most fun that we've ever had.

>>Patchett: I can't improve on that

>>Hendricks: (laughter)


New Mexico PBS dot org and look for COLORES under

What We Do and Local Productions.



Funding for COLORES was provided in part by:

Frederick Hammersley Foundation

...and Viewers Like You


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