Photo credit: —Bill Diven
Sally-Alice Thompson treks toward Algodones on her march to Santa Fe protesting the dark money skewing the country's political process.
Peace walker takes on money in politics
The 1930s darkened the world with the rise of fascism but enlightened one girl who would grow up to be a World War II veteran, teacher, and peace-and-justice activist.
Late in October, Sally-Alice Thompson celebrated her 91st birthday by walking through Bernalillo on a trek to Santa Fe to draw attention to big money shutting the average voter out of the political process.
Two days later, the Signpost tried to keep up as she and a small group of supporters approached Algodones on State Route 313.
“Now it’s time for voters get out and vote to make sure they let legislators know we are still here and we’re not going let the money and the corporations take over this country,” she said. “It’s our country.”
Her walk is part of an effort dubbed “Get the MOP,” short for Get the Money Out of Politics. It’s one of many efforts launched in response to Supreme Court rulings that removed limits on how much corporations, unions, nonprofit associations, and wealthy individuals can contribute to or spend on political campaigns.
“I have been involved in many, many issues. I jump from one to another to another, but they all lead back to the same thing,” Thompson said. “We can’t get the people in power to pay attention to us because they’re obligated to their big campaign contributors… Their loyalty is with the campaign contributors rather than with the voters, and we have to stop that. In order to have democracy, the vote has to count for something.”
Thompson, who taught in the Albuquerque Public Schools for twenty years, said she has marched so many times that she doesn’t recall the first one. But it all began in the 1970s when a lecture on nuclear war and the effects of the atomic bombings of Japan moved her to action.
In 1986—”I was 63 at the time; I was young”—she spent more than eight months walking from Los Angeles to Washington as part of the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament.” She joined a similar march in the Soviet Union the next year, which led to her leading the effort that linked Albuquerque and Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan, as Sister Cities.
“What do I think of her? I can’t keep up,” said LeMoyne Castle of Move To Amend, a group trying to overturn the Supreme Court decisions through a constitutional amendment. And another walker with Thompson, Cecilia Chávez Beltrán added, “All the years I’ve known her, she’s been out expressing her opposition to injustice and her solidarity with the people.”
The roots of Thompson’s activism trace to her Depression-era childhood in the Midwest as the dictatorships of Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Francisco Franco ravaged Europe.
“At school we used to get a little paper called the Weekly Reader, and it told about the rise in fascism,” Thompson recalled. “I was very unhappy about it even as a child… I couldn’t understand how the people in Germany could permit such a thing to happen.”
When World War II broke out, she felt obligated to do something to oppose fascism so she became a Navy postal clerk as a member of the WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. Led by the first woman to be commissioned a Navy officer, about ninety thousand women were in the service by the end of the war.
From Algodones, Thompson continued walking NM 313 to San Felipe Pueblo before driving to Madrid to resume her trekking on NM14. At publication date, she, aided by a group of about twenty supporters in the Cerrillos area, is continuing towards the southern limits of Santa Fe and expects to arrive at the Capitol for a rally and news conference on October 25.
“She has been very steady. She is walking one hundred percent of what she wanted to,” said Maria del Carmen Lopez Martin, a longtime friend and driver of the support van. Along the way, Thompson has visited schools, giving talks to small and large groups of students, she added.
Thompson is scheduled to make presentations at Turquoise Trail Charter Elementary School near Santa Fe and the Martha Liebert Public Library in Bernalillo towards the end of October.
A memento in memory of Denny Bagley—the one kneeling at the old Thunderbird Bar, in Placitas; Berry Hickman center, left is Goatpen Jim, Harriet Riggs. & P.A. Blalock. On the right are Dominick & Shelly B. Thanks to PA Blalock for this photo. Photographer unknown.
In Loving Memory of
Dennis “Denny” Bagley
Denny had a great sense of humor, was Mr. Mellow and was best known in the early years for living in a school bus at Latitude Zero. (Larry says it's still there!) He was also a bartender at the Thunderbird Bar in the Village of Placitas.
My eyes are full of tears, my heart is full of Love. Thank you Denny for all you taught me. Many laughs, many stories remembered, and those wonderful eyes.
Hasta Luego to The Bagmeister
Who’s in your family tree? A genealogy workshop for beginners
On November 1, from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m., at Loma Colorado Main Library Auditorium, there will be a workshop for those who are beginning to research their family history. The workshop will be presented in three parts and will include time for questions. To register, call 891-5013, ext. 3033, or stop by the information desk. The workshop is free, but registration is required. The library is located at 755 Loma Colorado Blvd, NE, in Rio Rancho.