Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Latinas Advanced Women's Suffrage


As much as I am proud of the 19th Amendment Centennial celebration, I remind us that women of color, Latinas, Asian American, Native American, and African American, have also participated in acquiring suffrage for American Women. 

 As a Latina, Native American  Emeritus professor of history, I will introduce 2 Latinas who participated as their situation, state, time and place would allow. 

In  Laredo, Texas, in 1914, Jovita Idár,  was a journalist  at La Cronica, a Spanish language newspaper,  and  an activist focusing on the  civil rights struggle. 

Idár wrote about equal rights for women, encouraging women to get educated and become independent from men. She started La Liga Femenil ( League of Mexican American Feminist).  She and her husband established the local Democratic club in Laredo, Texas. 

Lucy  ( Lucia) Gonzáles Parsons  was a  activist and labor organizer who fought for the rights of workers and the liberation of women.   In 1879 she became active in the Chicago Working Women’s Union.  She called for a suffrage  plank in the Socialist Party platform and demanded equal pay for equal work.  She was a founder of the IWW , the Industrial Workers of the World. 

Lucia González Parsons is one of a long list of Latinas, such as Dolores Huerta, Luisa Moreno, Emma Tenayuca, Jovita Idár, Sara Estela Ramírez,  and María Hernández who have struggled to end the exploitation of women and labor in the United States and to obtain civil rights for Latinas.

The struggle to obtain the vote in states like Texas and other Southern States was difficult, often bloody and violent. A poll tax was to be paid in order to vote. Poor Latinos, like my parents, could only afford to pay for one person to spend the $1.50 fee.  There were also Jim Crow laws enforcing racial segregation and limiting the rights of Mexican Americans in South Texas,  Often signs were posted in stores and restaurants saying, “ No Negroes, Mexicans, or dogs allowed.” Abuse and harassment by law enforcement including the Texas Rangers was common. Schools were segregated with facilities for Mexican American ( Latinos) dilapidated and inferior.   Speaking Spanish in or around school was prohibited and punished. 

As we speak of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,  we should do just that.  When celebrations, news stories, viral programs, and spokes persons are invited to participate in the 2020 centennial celebration include us, ask us.  Sisterhood is powerful !



1.    “Overlooked Obituaries”. Jovita Idár,  New York Times, August 10, 2020.  


2.    Timelines of American Women’s History. Sue Heinemann. 1996.  Perigee book, Berkeley Publishing Group.


3.     La Chicana,  Alfredo Mirandé & Evangelina Enriquez, University of Chicago Press. 1979. 


Dolores Delgado Campbell. Emeritus Professor of History. American River College.

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