AFSCME Council 18

New Mexico Labor Celebrate President Obama's Designation of New National Monument

AFSCME Council 18 Executive Director, Connie Derr posing with a favorite piece of Women's Rights history.

April 11, 2016
For immediate release
contact Miles Conway

New Mexico Labor Celebrates Obama Designation of New National Monument

Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument was Birth Site of 19th Amendment - Women's Right to Vote

40 New Mexico leading women send letter of thanks to President Obama for historic action

The New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFSCME New Mexico, and AFT New Mexico are joining leaders from across New Mexico and the nation in celebration of President Obama’s announcement to establish the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument as a unit of the National Park Service.

The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument was the site from which Alice Paul, one of the greatest women’s rights advocates and political strategists in American history, led the National Woman’s Party in securing the right for women to vote through the passage and ratification of the 19th amendment in 1919-1920.  

As a National Monument, the site will ensure future generations can explore the important contributions women had in shaping equal rights in our country. The building currently is home to the most extensive collection of suffrage and equal rights movement artifacts in America, including historic documents, banners, sashes, and newsletters.

“The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 18, say ‘thank you’ to President Obama and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. This [National Monument] designation forever bestows a proper recognition upon a pivotal chapter in American history,” said Connie Derr, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 18 in New Mexico. “Every union woman across our nation who continues the struggle for women’s equality will know the history and enduring lessons which the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument can deliver. Its establishment within the National Park Service system ensures that future generations of young women leaders will know of the sacrifice and bravery which our suffragist sisters demonstrated in order to bring about the 19th amendment and set the roots for an American Civil Rights Movement.”

"Generations of working women have benefited from the rights granted to women as a direct result of the advocacy of Alice Paul and countless others who took a stand for equity, fairness, and justice. We, as working women, and in particular union women, have an obligation to continue the struggles that have been on-going for so many years.  Our work is not yet complete, but we commit to continue the fight on behalf of all women and future generations to come. The designation of the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is an important reminder of this on-going work," said Stephanie Ly, President, American Federation of Teachers New Mexico.

“The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is a living symbol which reminds today’s generation that we build upon the victories of our predecessors. Today’s fight for equity, through the Paycheck Fairness Act, grew out of yesterday’s effort to win the Equal Rights Amendment and prior to that, the battle for ratification of the 19th amendment. They’re all connected,” said Maxine Velasquez, Secretary Treasurer of the New Mexico Federation of Labor.

Other New Mexicans joining in celebration of the new National Monument include 40 leading women in public service and business who sent a letter to President Obama today thanking him for taking this historic action.

The President used his authority under the Antiquities Act to add Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument to our National Park System as a National Monument. Since its passage in 1906, this bipartisan law has been used by sixteen U.S. Presidents, eight Republicans and eight Democrats, to declare 146 national monuments (prior to today). More information about today’s announcement is available from the U.S. Department of Interior.



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