Jovita Idár, the activist who fought for equality on the Mexican border through education

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The journalist combined her profession with the classroom to preserve culture, promote equal rights and encourage women to study and participate in politics

Having access to a good education and enjoying opportunities that many around you cannot consider usually serves to put you at a level of life that easily forgets the most vulnerable. The first part of the sentence was fulfilled with the family of Jovita Idár, but it was precisely the education that she received at home and at school that was the reason why she dedicated her entire life to fighting for the equal rights of Mexican-Americans, marginalized and mistreated in border cities, and especially those of women in the early twentieth century.

From a very young age, he believed that education was the best tool to transform society. “Educate a woman and you will educate a family,” Idár repeated with conviction, and from the age of 18 he devoted himself completely to this cause, with the disappointment and dismay of verifying the inequalities that prevented there being books and school supplies for all students.

He thought then that he would get more results from the pages of his father’s newspaper, in which his brothers also worked. And he devoted himself to this new cause with such passion that his chronicles and opinions about the events on the border and the Mexican Revolution gave him an echo and problems almost equally.

Jovita Idár was also a volunteer nurse with the White Cross during the Mexican Revolution and later became a great activist for women’s rights, encouraging them to participate in politics. She always promoted social justice in her writing and after marrying and moving to San Antonio, she founded a free kindergarten, worked in a hospital as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking patients, and taught childcare courses for women.

Idár trusted all his life that the most vulnerable living on both sides of the Mexican border could improve their situation through education and empowerment, and he succeeded.

Jovita Idár was born on September 7, 1885 in Laredo, a city in Texas on the border with Mexico. She was the second of eight children in a family that enjoyed some privileges, since her father, Nicasio Idár, was the editor of a local newspaper in Spanish, The chronic, and defender of civil rights.

The children of the Idár family grew up in an atmosphere of respect and in which the rights and difficult circumstances of the Mexican American community were constantly discussed at home.

Jovita Idár was educated in Methodist schools and forged her character as an energetic, assertive, imaginative girl who stood out for her writing. Upon completing her studies, she received a teaching certificate from the Holding Institute in Laredo and began teaching young children in Los Ojuelos, a town in Southeast Texas. She was immediately shocked by the conditions of the schools, located in dilapidated buildings and with almost no school supplies or furniture for the students.

In those years of the early twentieth century, it was common to see signs in restaurants and stores that said: “No blacks, Mexicans or dogs allowed.” Intimidation and abuse against Mexican-Americans were common, and speaking Spanish in public was not recommended either.

Young Idár decided then that she could have much more impact on her purpose by engaging in activism through writing, so she joined her father and brothers in the newspaper The chronic. His commitment to the fight for civil rights increased when he learned of the lynchings suffered by Mexican American men.

The newspaper was a source of news in favor of the community whose rights were continuously violated and Jovita also wrote articles on racism and supporting the revolution in Mexico.

In 1911 Idár and his family organized the First Mexican Congress to unify the Mexican community on both sides of the border and fight against injustice. The congress, which was held from September 14 to 22, discussed many issues, including education and lack of financial resources. Within that congress, and on a day like today 109 years ago, Idár was elected president of the Liga Femenil Mexicanista, a feminist organization ahead of its time that united women around the critical educational, social and political problems they faced. faced the Mexican-American community. The feminist organization chaired by Jovita began its activism by offering education to poor Mexican-American students, urging them to learn in both Spanish and English.


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