UTSA Honors Late Activist Jovita Idar at Ceremonial Quarter Release September 14
This studio portrait of Jovita Idar was taken by Garcia Studio in Laredo in 1905. Photo courtesy of UTSA Libraries Special Collections
SEPTEMBER 11, 2023 — UTSA, the United States Mint and the National Women’s History Museum will co-host a celebration of the latest coin in the American Women Quarters™ Program, featuring Jovita Idar, a Mexican-American journalist, activist, teacher and suffragist.
The quarter, which will be celebrated during two events on Thursday, September 14 at the UTSA Downtown Campus, will kick off UTSA’s annual Hispanic Heritage Month celebration while honoring Idar’s impact and UTSA’s role as one of the nation’s leading Hispanic Serving Institutions.
“Jovita Idar was a journalist, a teacher and a vocal advocate who helped lead the modern Mexican-American civil rights movement and encouraged women to become politically active. Yet her story remains unknown to so many in our community,” said Teresa Niño, UTSA vice president for university relations. “As a Hispanic Serving Institution, UTSA is proud to join the United States Mint, the National Women’s History Museum and Jovita’s family in commemorating the new Jovita Idar Quarter and celebrating Jovita’s life and legacy.”
“Jovita Idar was a journalist, a teacher and a vocal advocate who helped lead the modern Mexican-American civil rights movement and encouraged women to become politically active. Yet her story remains unknown to so many in our community.”
This photograph from 1913 shows Leonor Villegas de Magnon (left) and Jovita Idar (right) treating a person wounded during the Mexican Revolution. Photo courtesy of UTSA Libraries Special Collections
Thursday evening’s quarter celebration includes two events that are free and open to the public.
The first event, a roundtable panel discussion titled, “The Historical Significance, Public Impact, and Legacy of Jovita Idar,” is scheduled at 5:30 p.m. in the Buena Vista Street Building’s Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328). Panelists will include UTSA history professor Gabriela Gonzalez; Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Lopez and Martha Lopez Aki, members of the Idar Family; United States Mint Deputy Director Kristie McNally; National Women’s History Museum representative Jennifer Herrera and United Methodist Church retired Bishop Joel Martinez. Niño will moderate the discussion, which will conclude with questions from the audience.
Following the panel, UTSA will host the Jovita Idar Quarter Release Celebration at 7 p.m. in the Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326). It will include a keynote address by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, performances by UTSA Mariachi Los Paisanos and Ballet Folklórico de UTSA, remarks from UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, United States Mint Deputy Director Kristie McNally, a ceremonial coin pour and a presentation to the Idar family.
This photograph shows employees in print shop of El Progreso newspaper in 1914. Jovita Idar is on the right. Photo courtesy of UTSA Libraries Special Collections
Idar was born on September 7, 1885, in Laredo, Texas. The daughter of a newspaper editor and a civil rights advocate, Idar was exposed to journalism and political activism at a very young age. She devoted her life to fighting against separatist ideologies and sought to create a better future for Mexican-Americans.
Her ideas and practices were ahead of her time. She made it her mission to pursue civil rights for Mexican-Americans and believed education was the foundation for a better future. Idar wrote many news articles in various publications speaking out about racism and supporting the revolution in Mexico.
In 1911, she joined the First Mexicanist Congress in Laredo and organized Mexican-American activists.
She and other women formed La Liga Femenil Mexicanista, or the League of Mexican Women, a political and charitable organization that sought to empower Mexican-American women. Idar was chosen as its first president.
Idar died in San Antonio on June 13, 1946. Throughout her life, she remained on the front lines of change and advocated fiercely for the rights of women and Mexican-Americans.
“We’re honored to co-host this important and inspiring event celebrating the life and legacy of Jovita Idar and the new Idar Quarter,” said Jennifer Herrera, vice president of external affairs for the National Women’s History Museum. “Idar’s story is one of courage, determination, and tenacity. She has made an indelible mark on American history through her profound contributions to human and civil rights, and we’re proud to see another fierce, changemaking Latina on a circulating U.S. Quarter.”
⇒ Learn more about the United States Mint’s American Women Quarters™ Program and its design selection process.
⇒ Learn more about the National Women’s History Museum.
This photograph shows members of the Union of Stone Masons and Bricklayers (Union Local de Albaniles) in 1915. On the platform are (from left to right): Jovita Idar, Professor Simon Dominguez and his daughter. Photo courtesy of UTSA Libraries Special Collections
The Jovita Idar Quarter is the ninth coin in the American Women Quarters™ Program, a four-year program that celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women of the United States. Beginning in 2022, and continuing through 2025, the United States Mint will issue up to five new reverse designs each year.
The obverse (heads) depicts a portrait of George Washington, originally composed and sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser to mark George Washington’s 200th birthday. A recommended design for the 1932 quarter, then-Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon ultimately selected the familiar John Flanagan design.
The reverse (tails), designed by medallic artist John P. McGraw, features a depiction of Idar with her hands clasped. Within her body are inscriptions representing some of her greatest accomplishments and the newspapers for which she wrote.
“Jovita Idar devoted her life to fighting against separatist ideologies and sought to create a better future for Mexican-Americans,” said United States Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson. “Her legacy continues to encourage and empower future generations.”
Attendees at Thursday night’s event will receive a complimentary Jovita Idar Quarter in an American Women Quarters™ Collector Coin Board.
About the National Women's History Museum
Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is an innovative museum dedicated to uncovering, interpreting, and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society. A renowned leader in women’s history education, the Museum brings to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history, and serves as a space for all to inspire, experience, collaborate, and amplify women’s impact—past, present, and future. We strive to fundamentally change the way women and girls see their potential and power.
The NWHM fills in major omissions of women in history books and K-12 education, providing scholarly content and educational programming for teachers, students, and parents. We reach more than four million visitors each year through our online content and education programming and, in March 2023, mounted our first physical exhibit at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in downtown Washington, DC, We Who Believe in Freedom: Black Feminist DC. The Museum is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit us at womenshistory.org.