by Peggy Chong
From the Editor: Peggy Chong loves history and is an amateur historian who has made frequent contributions in these pages. Here is what she has to say about spreading the news about the White Cane Law to a prominent official in the state where she and her husband Curtis now live:
On Saturday, October 18, 2014, Federationists gathered at the Uptown Sheraton Hotel in Albuquerque to celebrate the passage of the White Cane Law here in New Mexico. This is much more than a law that allows us to travel independently on our city and country roads. It is the civil rights legislation here in New Mexico that guarantees blind people access to all buildings, streets, activities, and employment opportunities in our state. Our banquet was sponsored by the NFB of New Mexico, Albuquerque Chapter; the Parents of Blind Children Division; and the West Mesa Chapter.
Caroline Benavidez, president of the West Mesa chapter, was our emcee. The first part of the agenda was a history of white cane laws in New Mexico presented by Peggy Chong. Francine Garcia read the 2014 White Cane Proclamation signed by Governor Susana Martinez earlier in the month.
Our guest speaker was Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden Eden, whose topic was quiet cars and how they affect us all. He related his personal experience being hit by a quiet car at his own home by a family member. It was refreshing to have a police representative identify with our issues as a fellow Albuquerquean and not think of us as amazing, brave, or leading lives too scary for him to imagine. He offered our chapters an opportunity to come and record a video message concerning the White Cane Law that all the police officers of Albuquerque can view as part of their daily updates. We agreed to take him up on his offer later in November. All agreed that Chief Eden did a great job and is a friend to the blind of our city.
A certificate of appreciation was presented to Chief Eden after his presentation. The certificate was done in both print and Braille, and Albuquerque President Daphne Mitchell read the Braille version to him.
Again this year we hosted the White Cane Essay Contest. Gail Wagner presented the winners with their cash prizes and read the winning entries to the audience. This year's essay contest winners were first place in the adult category, Veronica Smith, and second place, Monica Martinez. In the children's category Faith Switzer took first place and Ari Benally second place.
When we adjourned the festivities, many Federationists lined up to thank Chief Eden for coming and staying during the entire event to meet many of our members personally. All left the banquet with renewed energy for the National Federation of the Blind.