Written by Nancy Baker Jones
Read by Susan Castle
Produced by KUT for Texas Women's History Month in cooperation with the Ruthe Winegarten Memorial Foundation for Texas Women's History. First broadcast on Austin radio station KUT in March, 2011.
Nancy Baker Jones, "IDAR, JOVITA," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fid03).
Teresa Palomo Acosta, "IDAR, NICASIO," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fid02).
Jovita Idar grew up in Laredo, one of 8 children of parents who published La Crónica, a Spanish-language newspaper that exposed segregation, lynching, and other injustices endured by Mexican Texans in the early 20th Century. She trained to be a teacher, but frustration with her inability to improve her students’ poor conditions propelled her to write for the newspaper and try to effect social change.
In 1911, she and her family organized the Congreso Mexicanista, a convention to discuss racism, the need for teaching Spanish in schools, women’s rights, and protecting the lives and property of Tejanos. Women, some for the first time, participated publically as participants and speakers at this political gathering. One result was the creation of the League of Mexican Women, which was probably the first attempt in Mexican American history to form a feminist social movement. Jovita Idar was its first president and made its primary goal to provide education for poor children.
In 1913, during the Mexican Revolution, Idar traveled with revolutionary forces as a nurse. Later, when she wrote an editorial for the newspaper El Progresso protesting the presence of U.S. troops on the border, she stood in the newspaper’s doorway to stop Texas Rangers from shutting it down. They eventually did, however, and Idar returned to run La Crónica after her father’s death in 1914.
Jovita Idar established a free kindergarten in San Antonio, where she died in 1946.