Jovita Idár


Jovita Idár wore many different hats at the turn of the 20th century, and is fairly well known to the Mexican-Americans of Texas. As a teacher, she saw first hand the second rate citizenship of children who were Mexican or Tejano, and how their education was woefully neglected of funding. Of the schools that existed for Spanish speaking children, many did not have books or heat and were located in buildings that were falling apart. This, and the murder of Antonio Gomez via lynch mob spurred Jovita to take action. She organized and was first president of La Liga Femenil Mexicanista (The Mexican Feminist League), whose purpose was to provide free education and services to children, and to “unify the Mexican intellectuals of Texas around the issues of protection of civil rights, bilingual education, lynching of Mexicans, labor organizing and women’s concerns”. They taught poor children (and adults) how to read and write, and created lessons to help them become bilingual. La Liga also provided charitable services, distributing food and clothing for those less fortunate.

During the Mexican Revolution, Jovita joined a group called The White Cross. She went into cities along the border and was nurse to anyone who needed care; revolutionaries, government soldiers, and civilians. It was during this time that she saw first hand the influences the U.S. had on the revolution as well, oftentimes contributing to the violence. Jovita then became a journalist for El Progreso, highlighting and criticism Woodrow Wilson’s involvement. Very soon after a critical publication, the Texas Rangers came to the offices to shut things down. Refusing to leave the doorstep, Jovita protected her right to free speech… they came again the next night with sledgehammers and destroyed everything. The newspaper never recovered (she didn’t have the clout that Twitter has)

Jovita later became editor in chief at La Cronica, the newspaper he late father was an editor of. Under her leadership, the newspaper continued pushing for activism and justice, helping to organize and give voice to migrant workers and others. She continued a life dedicated to education rights, nonviolence, and helping to give voice to those who needed it until her death in 1946.

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