NM House Celebrates 10th African American Day

House Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton on the floor of the New Mexico House on African American Day at the State Legislature. Courtesy photo


SANTA FE Today, the Roundhouse welcomed hundreds of guests from around the state for the 10th African American Day at the Legislature.

“This celebration is in honor of the many contributions African Americans have made – from jazz and poetry to civil rights and medical exploration,” said Majority Leader Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Bernalillo). “Most of all, this is a day to honor our students with the Alice Faye Kent Hoppes Scholarship. Alice Faye Kent Hoppes was a great civil rights leader and community activist in the State of New Mexico.”

Reverend Dr. DeForest Soaries Jr. gave a keynote speech to legislators and guests on the House floor. Dr. Soaries is the former Secretary of State of New Jersey, former chairman of the United States Election Assistance Commission, and the founder of the dfree Financial Freedom Movement. “Every group, every demographic in society has a story—we become a better country when all of our stories are heard,” the Reverend told the House chamber. “This celebration is not designed to point fingers and spread guilt. It’s a story about how when times are tough, when then odds are against you, there is a path forward, there is a way out.” Rev. Soaries received a standing ovation for his remarks.

Today’s event was organized by the African American Legislative Day Council (AALDC). AALDC promotes post-secondary education, including trade school and specialty training, through scholarships and educational development programs.

The 1st Place Winner of this year’s Hobbes scholarship was Cibola High School student Niara Johnson.

African American Day, by statute, is celebrated annually; however, the New Mexico Legislature conducts a full day celebration biannually.