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Local exhibit to celebrate Jovita Idar

As Hispanic Heritage Month wraps up we celebrate Jovita Idar: a journalist, educator, nurse, activist and civil rights champion whose legacy lives on in the gateway city.
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 9:02 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, here at KGNS we recently featured two local businesses about their impact on the local community.

As Thursday wraps up the dedicated month, we turn our attention to one activist from Laredo’s past: Jovita Idar.

Journalist, educator, nurse, activist and civil rights champion: just some accomplishments under Jovita Idar’s belt.

Born in 1885, she dedicated her life to fighting for the rights of others, including Mexican-Americans.

“Jovita Idar is one of Laredo’s own homegrown heroes," said Margarita Araiza.

Idar and her family owned multiple newspapers in Laredo, one named “El Progreso” which the Texas Rangers threatened to shut down and they were eventually successful in doing so.

This encounter was the inspiration for one of Google’s doodles on its homepage in late September on her 135th birthday, a scene in which Idar stands firmly between her newspaper and the Rangers.

“She was a very dedicated journalist. The family devoted the newspaper to very big issues, civil rights issues for Hispanics, education of Hispanics, and then eventually even feminist issues.”

Margarita Araiza is the executive director of the Webb County Heritage Foundation. She says she’s happy to see Idar finally recognized for her contributions.

In August of this year, Idar was featured in a PBS documentary called “Unsung Women Who Changed America” and a New York Times article called “Overlooked No More.”

Jovita Idar’s El Progreso Park off Thomas Avenue is even named after her.

“It’s important for us all to recognize our own past heroes, our local history. It identifies us. It is who we are.”

Some of Idar’s newspaper articles drew attention to the social discrimination against Mexican-Americans, the lynchings of Hispanics, and the loss of Mexican culture.

As some have said on social media: long live Jovita Idar!

“I think we should celebrate Hispanic Heritage every day, and the heritage foundation is precisely devoted to that kind of mission.”

An exhibit on Jovita Idar is expected to be unveiled sometime next week in the park. Park goers will see a large mural and printed samples of her newspaper articles.

Copyright 2020 KGNS. All rights reserved.

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