Tucumcari native ‘fought for everyone’

By Angela Peacock

A proud African American woman on a mission to fight for civil right for all cultures and races is how family members described Alice Faye Hoppes.

Hoppes, who died Tuesday, was born and raised in Tucumcari, which was something her husband of 35 years Willard said she proudly told everyone she came into contact with.

“No matter where Alice went she told people she was a Native New Mexican and that she was born in Tucumcari,” Willard said.

Hoppes quit her job with U.S. West in 1989 to follow her calling to become a politician who fought for civil rights. That’s when her oldest daughter LaDonna Hall-Gamble said she truly began making a name for herself as a woman who truly believed in equality for all races.

“She fought for everyone not just blacks,” LaDonna Hall-Gamble said. “People from all races knew that if they’d been wrong and had a problem she was the lady who’d know how to make it right. She would get calls in the middle of the night, but she’d always answer the phone.”

A friendly, woman who refused to give up and always genuinely cared for others is how Toya Faye Morgan will remember her mother. Morgan said Hoppes always went out of her way to help others in need, but especially children. She recalled a time when her mother brought a young man into their home who had no place else to go, made sure he went to school and had everything he needed to survive.

“My mother was a living witness that just because you don’t get what you want the first go round you don’t ever give up,” Morgan said. “She was brought up in a time where she wasn’t always able to do the things she wanted, but she never gave up and look at all the things she accomplished.”

Perseverance was the one virtue Diedra Sirrae said her mother taught her and is one she’ll cherish forever. She said Hoppes knew her calling was in politics and even though she had several enemies she had to contend with they never stopped her walking back into the line of fire to finish the job she started so many years ago.

“I had fought the good fight, I have finished my course and hence forth there is a crown of glory made up for me,” said Sirrae, recalling a saying that reminds her of Hoppes.

Hoppes fervently and fearlessly fought to make the political, social and governmental systems accountable to its black citizens, in not only Albuquerque, but throughout the state.

She was elected president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People-Albuquerque Branch in 1984. She served in this position for 12 years. During her tenure, she spearheaded effort to create an African-American Day at the annual state fair, organized civil rights marches to protest unfair practices and spoke out in a variety of venues about prison reform, biased media reporting, unfair labor practices, fair housing and equal access.

In addition to the NAACP, Mrs. Hoppes was involved in a number of other organizations where she continues to be a voice for African-Americans. Her involvement with the African-American Day Steering Committee, which implements activities related to the participation of black New Mexicans in he state legislature on a day set aside for such activities. Additionally, she was serving a second term as president of the Albuquerque chapter of the National Council of Negro Women.

One of her most notable recent accomplishments was her appointment as director of the office of African-American Affairs by Gov. Bill Richardson, which Willard said was the proudest moment of her career.

Mrs. Hoppes has received a number of recognition awards for her accomplishments in Albuquerque, including the 2000 Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Award from the NAACP Human Rights Award-Albuquerque Human Rights Board and Outstanding Black Women Commission on Status of Women. Mrs. Hoppes was recently honored in a roast/recognition banquet where she received accolades from Mayor Martin Chavez, former Governors David Cargo and Gary Johnson, Governor Bill Richardson and other various state and local government officials.

When Hoppes wasn’t busy working as a politician family members said she enjoyed cooking her famous barbecue for family and friends, and also had poems published by the National Library of Poetry.

In spite of recent health problems, Hoppes managed to keep her hands on the pulse of community activities. Sirrae explained that her mother worked 10 to 12 hour days up until four days before her death.

“That’s how determined she was to finish her work,” Sirrae said.