On Wednesday, an episode celebrating Mexican-American journalist pioneer Jovita Idar premiered on PBS American Masters’ Unladylike2020—a series about unsung women who impacted the United States. The episode also features Latino USA‘s own Maria Hinojosa speaking about the life of the Laredo-born feminist and activist who was a part of the suffragette movement.
“Being introduced to Jovita Idar for me has been kind of life-changing. I never had a Latina journalist, like an independent, intellectual, writer, social justice, ethically correct, media entrepreneur, brown-skinned Spanish speaking American Latina Mexicana to ever look up to,” Hinojosa told Latino USA. “So for me to be introduced to her, it’s like she’s an angel.”
Through the use of animation, archival images and footage, and a series of interviews with journalists and historians, the approximately 12-minute short documentary chronicles Idar’s life story. It begins with a moment when she stood up to the Texas Rangers policing force known for its persecution of Mexicans and Mexican Americans, and dives into her work—from taking on racism via journalism to forming part of activist movements.
“I think about her fending off the Texas Rangers, and then she goes and works with the Mexican revolutionary army, basically in support of the soldiers who are fighting for freedom—and she did so much with her life,” Hinojosa said. “It’s always been Frederick Douglass, it’s always been Ida B. Wells as who I lean back on. When I need to, they’re the ones who speak to me, but now it’s also Jovita Idar.”