A Woman to Know: Jovita Idár

Educate a woman and you educate a family. — Jovita Idár

Educate a woman and you educate a family. — Jovita Idár

(image via Wikimedia Commons)

Jovita was born into activism. She watched her father, a newspaper editor at La Crónica, report on the Texas lynchings, protests and more; and she saw her mother, a Mexican-American civil rights advocate, travel throughout the state to care for women and children.

By 1900, Jovita took to demonstrating for the cause that mattered most to her: ending segregation, the horrific effects of which she saw firsthand as a teacher at a poorly funded school. She left education to join La Crónica, where she reported on the racism dividing her home state.

In 1911, Jovita worked with her family to organize the First Mexican Congress, created to help Mexicans in Texas and Mexicans across the border join forces to combat racial injustice. Following the success of the Congress, Jovita began writing articles about the plight of Mexican-American women and the fight for universal suffrage.

As a writer for multiple progressive newspapers, Jovita became a target for Texan authorities looking to silence outspoken advocates. Following one controversial article, the Texas state rangers even showed up to her newsroom, demanding the paper fire Jovita or close down publication entirely.

Jovita stood in the door, refusing them entrance to the building. But ultimately, the authorities’ power proved too great: they shut down the paper, and Jovita left journalism to turn to advocacy full-time.

She took on many jobs later in her life: she worked as a nurse in Mexico during the Mexican Revolution, volunteered with the Democratic Party in San Antonio, edited church bulletins and opened a free kindergarten. In the years before she died in 1946, she continued helping those in need, visiting the local hospitals to interpret for Spanish-speaking patients.

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