After Cuban singer Celia Cruz, yet another Latina has been honored by the American Women Quarters Program. Tejana journalist, teacher, political activist, and civil rights worker Jovita Idár was chosen to be depicted on a U.S. quarter for her dedication to championing the Mexican and Mexican American civil rights movements, criticizing U.S. action at the U.S.-Mexico border, and serving as a nurse during the Mexican Revolution. The quarter was released on Monday, becoming the ninth coin in circulation in the program.
The American Women Quarters Program began in 2022 and will continue until 2025, featuring changemaking women throughout U.S. history across industries and backgrounds on the reverse of quarters depicting the traditional George Washington design. Over the course of the program, five quarters will be released each year for 20 different uniquely designed quarters, which are sure to become collector’s items. The inaugural honorees included Maya Angelou, Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong. Idár is the third Latina to be honored after Cruz and Otero-Warren, who was a Mexican American voting rights activist and the first Latina to run for Congress. Idár’s quarter features her portrait with clasped hands and inscriptions on her blouse reading: “Mexican American Rights,” “teacher,” “Jovita Idar,” “nurse,” “evolución,” “astrea,” “el heraldo Cristiano” “La Cruz Blanca” “journalist,” “La Crónica” “el progreso,” “La Liga Femenil Mexicanista ,” “quarter dollar,” “e pluribus unum,” and “United States of America.”
“She devoted her life to fighting against separatist ideologies and sought to create a better future for Mexican Americans. Her legacy continues to encourage and empower future generations,” U.S. Mint Director Ventris C. Gibson said in a statement.
Idár was born in Laredo, Texas on September 7, 1885. She was a schoolteacher in a segregated school for Chicano students before becoming a journalist during the Mexican Revolution. Throughout the war, she worked for La Crónica, her father’s Spanish-language newspaper where she published articles in support of civil rights for Mexicans and Mexican Americans, as well as the violence, inequality, and racism they faced in Texas and at the border. She continued to edit and run the newspaper after her father’s death and founded her own which operated until 1920. She formed El Primer Congreso Mexicanista and La Liga Femenil Mexicanista to advocate for education, suffrage and economic equality. In 1911, she joined the First Mexicanist Congress in Laredo and organized Mexican-American activists. She joined forces with other women to form La Liga Femenil Mexicanista, a political and charitable organization that empowered Mexican American women. She died in San Antonio, Texas on June 15, 1946.
“The @usmint’s Jovita Idar quarter went into circulation today. Jovita is an often-overlooked South Texas hero who worked tirelessly for the rights of Mexican Americans & women in San Antonio & nationwide. It’s important to share how her & other Latinos have shaped U.S. history,” Congressman Joaquin Castro shared on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The @usmint's Jovita Idar quarter went into circulation today. Jovita is an often-overlooked South Texas hero who worked tirelessly for the rights of Mexican Americans & women in San Antonio & nationwide. It's important to share how her & other Latinos have shaped U.S. history. https://t.co/u9P1kKMT5L
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) August 14, 2023
The other four new quarters in circulation this year honor Eleanor Roosevelt; Bessie Coleman, an African American aviator; Edith Kanaka’ole, a Hawaiian educator; and Maria Tallchief, the first Native American prima ballerina in history.