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History-making Latina's face will be featured on a U.S. coin

Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren, a Mexican American educator and activist, fought for women's right to vote and blazed a trail when she ran for Congress.
Image: The Nina Otero-Warren quarter
The Nina Otero-Warren quarter.U.S. Mint

A new U.S. coin will recognize the life and achievements of an early 20th-century leading Hispanic American figure in politics and education.

Adelina "Nina" Otero-Warren's image will be stamped on a U.S. quarter, in recognition of her leadership in New Mexico's movement for women's right to vote, her pioneering role in politics and as the first female superintendent of the Santa Fe public schools.

The quarter that will bear her image is set to roll out Aug. 15, as part of the U.S. Mint’s American Women Quarters Program, a four-year program that started earlier in the year focusing on women's accomplishments and contributions to American history.

The quarter's tails design includes Otero-Warren herself, as well as yucca flowers — New Mexico's state flowers — and the suffragist slogan in Spanish, "Voto para la mujer," which means "votes for women."

Adelina Otero-Warren
Nina Otero-Warren on July 11, 1923. Library of Congress / Getty Images

Otero-Warren was born near Los Lunas in 1881 in an influential New Mexico Hispanic family descended from Spanish settlers. A leader in the suffragist movement, she advocated for the state to ratify the 19th Amendment to legally grant women in the U.S. the right to vote. She became the first Latina to run for the U.S. Congress in 1921 as a nominee of the Republican Party; though she lost the election, she stayed politically active.

Otero-Warren led the New Mexico chapter of the Congressional Union (later the National Woman's Party) and spearheaded the publishing of suffragist literature in both English and Spanish to reach a wider audience.

Between the two world wars, she took on the role as superintendent of public schools in Santa Fe County, where she worked to improve conditions for rural Hispanic and Native American communities. She's recognized for fighting against federal demands to assimilate Hispanic and Indigenous New Mexicans, by methods which included banning their traditional languages and customs.

Despite a federal mandate for English-only schools, she argued that both Spanish and English should be allowed in the classroom.

While serving as Santa Fe County's inspector of Indian schools, she criticized the government for the conditions within the federal school system for Native American children.

Otero-Warren, known as "La Nina" to her siblings, nieces and nephews, died in the home she grew up in Santa Fe in 1965. She spent her later years with her partner, Mamie Meadors, homesteading a ranch called "Las Dos" (the two women) while managing a real estate and insurance company under the same name. She also published a book, "Old Spain in Our Southwest," in 1936.

The other four trailblazers featured in the program's inaugural year are Maya Angelou, writer, poet and civil rights activist; Sally Ride, a physicist and the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, a Native American and women's rights activist and the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.

The American Women Quarters Program will continue through 2025 and will issue five new quarters each year highlighting women who reflect a wide range of accomplishments and fields, according to the mint.

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