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Historic San Antonio Woman's Activism To Be Showcased On PBS

Courtesy of the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Jovita Idár is a historic San Antonio woman, and on Friday, she will get national spotlight on PBS. The program is American Masters and the specific episode is called "Unladylike 2020."

UTSA History Professor Gabriela González's writing about Idár got the attention of producers of the show.

"We are celebrating 100 years of women having the ability, the right to vote in this nation,” González said. “One thing that certainly touched her life, her world, was the rise of racial segregation in the state of Texas and across the American South."

Idár saw racial segregation and fought against it as a teacher, a journalist and a transborder activist.

“She very much spoke against, for example, school segregation. And she was a strong advocate against the lynching of people of color,” González said. “But she was also involved in the Mexican Revolution. And that was a struggle for freedom as well, political freedoms, economic freedoms and for social justice."

Gabriela González
Credit Courtesy of Gabriela Gonzalez
Gabriela González

Idár's work as a journalist was particularly dangerous, in ways that are now hard to comprehend.

"And this is a time when it was extremely dangerous to be vocal about racism and discrimination. People were getting lynched on a fairly regular basis across the American South," she said.

After a newspaper critique of President Woodrow Wilson decision to send Marines to Veracruz, Idár was paid a visit by the Texas Rangers.

"So she courageously stood up to them. The Texas Rangers were notorious for basically visiting all kinds of violence upon people of Mexican descent in Texas," she said.

Idár stood up to the armed men on that day, but the next day she wasn't there, and they destroyed the presses.

For González, Idár's story is one of persistence.

"Never give up. Because if the activists of the past had given up, some of us would not be able to vote right now," she said.

Jack Morgan can be reached at Jack@TPR.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii.

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