Yuvia Olivares-Rodarte

Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy | Denver, CO | 11th Grade

Inspirational Family Member
My Step-Grandma

My step-grandma said she was in New York around the time she turned 18 and had the right to vote in 1962. But she did not actually vote until the 1968 presidential election between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. She explained that her reasoning for not voting was that she “didn’t feel smart enough to vote.”

She remembers the late 60s as “very interesting.” She claims to vaguely remember that time in her life but what she can recall is burning bras in protest, and Helen Reddy’s song “I Am Woman” being very popular with the feminist community. She remembers not making a lot of money during this time and my grandpa being in the service.

She mentioned the men coming back from the Vietnam War and getting high paying jobs, while women continued to suffer with unequal pay. She remembers having more freedom than the previous generation, especially when it came to birth control and opportunities for work, as well as the clothing being “a lot more fun” including “pantyhose more freeing and bras more comfortable.” She did not care or know very much about voting at the time, but she did, in fact, wish to have equal pay. She says we still do not have equal pay but it has gotten better over the years. She also mentioned that she did not realize the importance of voting or participating in an election until she became a mother in 1975.

She was never denied the right to vote, but she now believes and understands the importance of voting. She said, “Voting is important to make sure the right people get into office.”

Historical Figure I Admire
Dorothy Thompson

Dorothy Thompson said, “When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered.”

Dorothy Thompson was a suffragist, a journalist and a radio broadcaster from the 1930s. She was the first woman of many journalists expelled from Nazi Germany. She is also known as the, "First Lady of American Journalism." She was one of a few very successful broadcasters and journalists of her era. She did what she felt passionate about.  Thompson grew up with more privilege than other women and had access to education. These made her feel that she needed to make use of that knowledge. She wanted to help other women to have the same opportunities as she had. She briefly participated in the Women’s Suffrage Movement before returning to Germany to interview Hitler. 

Dorothy was the first western journalist to interview Adolf Hitler in 1931. She did not think that Hitler would become anything important, but was proven wrong after two years. Furthermore, she was the leading voice against the western Nazis. The Nazis created a whole emergency squad in Berlin and their job was to keep watch of what she said about their regime. The Gestapo warned Thompson to vacate Germany within 24 hours. She became a national hero and she was a big supporter of building a Jewish state in Palestine. In 1935 Thompson decided to visit Jerusalem and realized that it was not what she had imagined. In her own words, “I was in Palestine… and I assure you… that the situation there is not the way it has been presented by many of the Zionists. It is one of the most complicated and difficult problems on Earth today.” She was accused of being a racist and people began to believe that she was a Hitler Supporter. This caused issues and she quickly lost popularity. This made her career go downhill and eventually she was silenced and forgotten about. 

She wrote a book about her interview with Adolf Hitler and witnessed Hitler’s regime grow and become what we call the Holocaust. She wrote articles that offended him, eventually got expelled from Nazi Germany. Thompson was motivated by doing what she enjoyed and bringing to public attention what went on outside of America. She was self-aware and knew the role she played in society was that of role model for future suffragists.  She participated in the Women’s Suffrage Movement. She sacrificed her role in society as a leading woman in order to talk about her beliefs. She helped other women realize they could follow in her footsteps and do things like she did. They could participate and be politically active.

In conclusion, Dorothy Thompson left a huge mark on society; but it was slowly erased or forgotten about over time because of what people thought about her near the end of her career. She was a strong, risk-taking woman who was not afraid of Hitler or the consequences that might ensue by speaking out against him, much less other people’s opinions about her. She stands as an example to anyone who wants to learn how to speak truth to power, and fight for equality and against injustice.

What the Project Means to Me

I feel strange knowing that I perhaps will be the first woman of my biological family to not be denied the right to vote. Learning of my step-grandma’s experience has opened my eyes and made me feel like I should learn more about voting and politics to better my understanding of the world around me. I think participating in protest can make a big difference because it would be inspirational to fight for what I believe in. Like Helen Reddy said in her song “ I Am Woman”, “I am woman, hear me roar. In numbers too big to ignore.” One woman protesting seems like nothing but one woman protesting along with thousands of other women is bound to be heard.

Knowing that my grandmother in Mexico has not voted or attempted before is a very strange thought. My mother also does not have the right to vote in the US.  I wonder why my grandmother in Mexico doesn’t voice her opinion or use her right to vote there. I wonder if my mom has ever voted in Mexico. It is a very interesting thought and idea. Perhaps one day I will be allowed to vote in the US and maybe one day feel more educated in the political choices I make. I also think I should get more involved with political movements and be a part of the change rather than be a bystander. If I can vote later on in life I think I should be more involved in my community because I should just be more aware about what’s happening around me and understand how our choices as a country will affect me and the people I love and care about.

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