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Headlines from History

Jovita Idar – The Life and Times of a Mexican American Reformer

7–8 pm CDT
Online program via Zoom
Free to attend; registration required

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Jovita Idar (1885-1946) blazed a trail across the South Texas borderlands as a Mexican American teacher, journalist, and political activist. Like the transnational region in which she was raised, her career does not fit neatly into any one box. As an educator, she fought for the rights of children in South Texas during a time when segregation was common in Texas schools; as a humanitarian, she crossed the Rio Grande to tend to wounded soldiers during the Mexican Revolution; and as a journalist, she promoted the rights of women in an industry dominated by men. Her work challenged the boundaries imposed on Mexican American women during an era marked by war, migration, and economic reorientation. Join us as we explore her fascinating life of activism in the border region and learn about the historical moment in which she lived.

Meet the Speaker

Enrique Dávila is the current Carlos E. Castañeda fellow at the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas-Austin. He is a historian of reform movements in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands and is currently working on a book project, Bordering on Solidarity: Organizing Mexican and Mexican Americans in the U.S. Mexico Borderlands, 1880–1929. The book traces three generations of transborder activism implemented by a political family—the Idars of Laredo, Texas—during a period of heightened violence and exploitation due to the 1910 outbreak of the Mexican Revolution, increased ethnic and racial tensions in Texas, and the rise of low-wage, transnational, industries in the border region. During these difficult times, the Idars helped build transnational networks which they used to pursue a form of border populism, promoting equality, dignity, and unity in their efforts to secure economic and civil rights for people on both sides of the border. The history of this one family helps recover a lost transborder activism that challenges assumptions about sharp national divides; and reveals the political ideologies and community institutions created out of shared, rather than divided, experiences. Born in South Texas and raised in Houston, Dávila received his B.A. from the University of Texas and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

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Illinois teachers can earn 1.5 PD credits for watching the presentation and filling out a short PD activity.

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  This program includes built-in closed captioning through Zoom.