Propulsando niños de las minorías a través Carrascolendas: Propelling minority children through Carrascolendas


For Americans living post WWII, much of daily life began to seem familiar to what we see today. Long gone were the days of the depression and those of rationing goods. In the spotlight were the arguments of the kitchen debate and the ideas. It was during this time, Americans where continuing to face another form of disillusion, a form which through the work of Aida Barrera began to see its demise, further more displaying the American idea of equality of which we live today.

Long before the first scenes of Carrascolendas were shot, Aida Barrera found herself part of a traditional Mexican American family. As is the case for most Mexican Americans even today, much of her immediate family found themselves north of the Mexico border via migration for work and prosperity. Typical within most American families, her parents worked hard during her youth so that she as a young adult could focus her attention on getting a higher education, better than that which her parents were able to obtain. It is with flexibility that Aida began her journey in her hometown of Brownsville Texas, eventually finding herself at the University of Austin, where she would become known for her contribution to Mexican Americans, contributing even today.[1]

This production came in the form of her television show Carrascolendas. Through this show Aida sought to reform within the society of south Texas the issue of Mexican American children lacking the same quality education based programming that non-spanish speaking children had. At the time, Aida saw there was a need to this type of programming so that the Mexican American children would have a place to turn to in order to establish the same fundamental skills as all children, she wanted a universal symbol, something that would be attractive to all children and not necessarily be so culturally specific.[2] In order for her to accomplish this, it became apparent to her that this universal symbol needed to be something, which could relate to the American Culture so as to be socially accepted, while simultaneously infiltrating Mexican culture and emotions, winning he hearts of migrant parents. For Aida this became a major hurdle as she created her programming, in seeing the success of animals through programming such as Sesame Street and Disney, she understood this same adaptation to animals is what would ensure the success of her idea. She understood, children are especially responsive to theriomorphic symbols and can share a psychic identity with animals or animal symbols which sometimes baffles adults.[3] From this, was born the first and later most popular of many characters she would go on to create, Agapito the lion. Upon completion of Agapito, it became apparent to Aida that she had created the perfect symbol for what it was she intended to accomplish. Agapito had the bombastic bluster of his Anglo Saxon and American forebears, but with the ingenuity of the Mexican folk hero Juan Oso.[4] Upon seeing the success of Agapito, Aida would go on to add characters to her cast, creating other well-known characters such as doll sisters Berta and Dyana, tricksters Caracoles and Campamocho, and the malevolent Benito Vendetodo. For Aida each character had its individual role, as each one displayed a form of example for minority children.

While Carrascolendas would go on to acclaimed success, Aida and her band of example setting characters would face minimal yet intense resistance. Outside of the general resistance against a minority themed children’s show, most of the backlash Carrascolendas received was in direct relation to the characters Aida created. For each of her creations Aida saw a wide spectrum of criticism. The characters of the dolls were created innocently enough…. as the years progressed and gender issues became prominent in the greater society, one of the younger Anglo women in our production team felt the dolls had an unduly stereotypical feminine look.[5] Receiving equal prejudice, Caracoles and Campamocha became to be judged for their resemblance of American comics such as Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers. Further attempting to criticize the show, the character of Benito, played by a Cuban actor, began to be criticized for implying that all Cubans were as mischievous as him. Aside from this criticism, Aida Barrera and her work with Carrascolendas would live on in completing its goal of providing minority children an alternative to English speaking television. Success of the work of Aida while not seen right away was easily seen in a matter of three years. From the beginning, in what I am sure was an attempt to prove her theory wrong, field studies were done to show the effects on children these bilingual programs would have, though year after year for the first three years of programing Carrascolendas showed the academic progression of children both English speaking as well as Spanish speaking, with the only decrease being in those children speaking English who did not view the program, accounting for only a 4.01 differential in academic success over the first three years.[6]

Looking back at early broadcasting, it is evident that little was done to account for the minorities of this country, aside from the popular broadcasting of time in the form of Sesame Street and Disney. This inadequacy was more then made up for though through the work of Aida Barrera and her award winning production of Carrascolendas. Through this broadcasting, she along with her lovable characters were able to bring children of Mexican American decent, the ease and understanding needed so that they to could grow and contribute to our American society.


Barrera, Aida. Looking for Carrascolendas: From a Child’s World to Award-Winning Television. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2001.

McLeRoy, Sherrie. Texas Women First: Leading Ladies of Lone Star History. Charleston: The History Press, 2015.

Williams, Frederick and Diana Natalicio. Evaluating Carrascolendas: A Television Series for Mexican-American Children. Philadelphia: The Association for Professional Broadcasting, 1972.

Williams, Frederick and Geraldine Van Wart. Carrascolendas: Bilingual Education Through Television. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974.

[1] Sherrie McLeRoy, Texas Women First: Leading Ladies of Lone Star History (Charleston: The History Press, 2015), 36.

[2] Aida Barrera, Looking for Carrascolendas: From a Child’s World to Award-Winning Television (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2001) 163.

[3] Aida Barrera, Looking for Carrascolendas: From a Child’s World to Award-Winning Television (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2001) 166.

[4] Aida Barrera, Looking for Carrascolendas: From a Child’s World to Award-Winning Television (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2001) 165.

[5] Aida Barrera, Looking for Carrascolendas: From a Child’s World to Award-Winning Television (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2001) 172.

[6] Frederick Williams and Geraldine Van Wart, Carrascolendas: Bilingual Education Through Television. (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1974).


Dinner with a suffrage

Voice of the forgotten:

Jovita Idar and her fight for equality

John Cadena

History 4330: American Women’s History

October 16, 2015

For the duration of the suffrage movement many women contributed toward the advancement of women’s rights as we know them today. Of those women, some of the best-known works have come from women activists such as Susan B. Anthony and Carrie Chapman Catt. It became more than just a movement, it became a fight for what was right with in an ever-changing society. This fight is one of the reasons the work of these women will forever be seen as the building blocks for the continued efforts we still see today. Isolated from these convocations though are some of the efforts in the fight for equality, concerning the Latinas of this country. Of the many women who played a role in this arena, one stands out the most, Jovita Idar Juarez. Through her ability to subject her words on to paper, she was able to successfully advocate for women, children, and the education of the citizens of Texas.

As I recall, my interaction with Mrs. Jovita Idar began as the summer of 1917 was coming to an end. Recently having moved to San Antonio, I was unfamiliar with the workings of the city and was in search of things, which might occupy my time. Of the things I found myself drawn to in my youth were the politics of the state, at the time Mexican Americans were not seen as a popular member of society, therefore I thought it important that I learn my rights so that I might stay within my bounds and out of trouble. In my efforts to maintain myself within my new surroundings, I stumbled upon a newly formed club within my area, El Club Democrata organized and created by Jovita and her husband. In attending these club meetings, I began to learn of the work being conducted in the area for Mexican Americans, women and children in specific. Through this education I became familiar with Jovita’s famous words, por la raza y para la raza[1]. At the time, and due to the prejedice in the area, I was still looking for work in order to sustain what little income I brought with me for my travels. Here again Mrs. Idar and her husband assisted me in my time of need. As it happened her husband was a local Plumber[2] and in need of an apprentice to assist, as his age began to take its toll, though due to my lack of work record Mr. Juarez was unable to know the extent of my qualifications and asked that I meet him at his home first thing the following afternoon, a request I gladly excepted.

Only given the address on a piece political pamphlet, I arrived at the location unsure whether or not I had written down the proper instructions. If all was correct, it was pea of dwelling, pushed together around other single-family homes, single story in stature. Had I not caught wind of Mrs. Idar’s infamous chicken and beans[3], I would have turned back for my own home. As I approached the home, knocking on the door, Mrs. Idar opened her door welcoming me in and invited me to sit, informing me that Mr. Juarez was called to an emergency plumbing problem for a local mother of three. Opening her home to me, immediately sitting me at the table in true Latin fashion ella me dijo, mijo sientese (she told me, sit down). As I sat with feelings of shame for entering her home hungry, Mrs. Idar served me a bowl of chicken and beans along with a glass of cold water, and took her place across from me empty plated at the two-person table sitting in her tiny home.

As I ate, I began to wonder about the stories told about Mrs. Idar, allowing my curiosity to over come me I began to question her concerning her past role in the on going struggle for equality in the area. Though reluctant this must have struck a tone within her as she proceeded to take me through her fight, which according to her began with her receiving her teaching certificate from Holding Institute in 1903. Still a teenager, in 1903 Mrs. Idar found herself leaving Laredo to teach in the tiny south Texas town of Ojuelos[4], though according to her was not a stay that lasted long. Unsatisfied with the unbiased with which Mexican Americans in area were receiving, she decided to leave teaching and use her ability to write in defense of those dealing with this ill treatment. Toward this effort, Mrs. Idar began her work along with other educated Latinas in forming La Liga Femenil Mexicanista in the fall of 1911. She continued in telling me about the work conducted by the Mexican Feminist League, sometimes out of her own house, and how of most importance at the time was La Liga providing an education for the women and children in the area. It was important to her that I understood her theory, educate a woman, and you educate a family.[5] As we sat there finishing up my lunch she continued recounting for me the countless literary readings and theatrical productions[6] sponsored by La Liga in order to raise funding for the education of women in the area.

At this, I began to tell Mrs. Idar, it was my opinion that without a doubt her actions within that movement would live on in progressing the rights of women for decades to come, though from what I can only assume is her humble up bringing, she ignored my comments and continued with her lecture. In my attempts to continue her praise, slightly out of continued shame for her feeding me, I directed the conversation toward a rumor I had heard while in the audience of an El Club Democrata meeting about her involvement in the Mexican Revolution. In these meetings I had caught word that she along with several other women were seen running through the battles fields of Laredo, pulling out wounded men and caring for them out of a neighboring house. In response to this, her only willingness to accept credit came in the form of acknowledging that it was all a necessary risk in confirming the willingness of women to preform at an equal standard to men.[7]

Frustrated by her lack of willingness to promote her actions in the fight for equality, I again moved the topic to a more recent event that had made its way around the tables. Without much discretion, I asked that she talk with me about her role in the events at El Progreso, a Spanish language newspaper out of her hometown of Laredo. From the look in her eyes, I could tell this request had made her regret feeding me, though in keeping with her manners of entertaining guest, she reluctantly began her story. Having already the major points of importance, I simply relished in the opportunity to hear this story from her side of the door. She began by emphasizing her continued disapproval of Woodrow Wilson and his sending troops to the boarder[8], interfering with the Mexican Revolution. It was her belief that this interference directly delayed the rights of women to be pushed aside[9], forcing her as a result to publish printed disapproval of his policy. Concluding her story, she briefly toughed on what I hoped she’d spend the most time, her infamous run in with the notorious Texas Rangers as a result of her publication. Insignificant through her depiction, she recounted for me the anger in which El Progreso stirred for President Wilson and his retaliation in sending the Texas rangers to destroy her press company, upon arrival Mrs. Idar found herself defending her press by placing herself in between the door way, not allowing them to seizing the freedom of press rights she worked to hard to obtain, a freedom her husband, having now returned, supported whole heartedly. Upon his return, Mr. Juarez, motioned to me that my time spent with Jovita Idar had now come to an end, and my apprenticeship was to begin. Having spent this time with Mrs. Idar though I found myself questioning if Plumbing was in fact my calling, leaving me in a position having to thank Mr. Juarez for this opportunity but my passion for public service was most recently born and it was the direction I intended to follow for the remainder of my days.

It has almost been a hundred years since women across the United States won the official right to vote, essentially making them equal to men, though some can be easily argued that what was won that day was only the appearance of equality. It is the fight for this equality, which allows us today to debate this interpretation. Not up for interpretation though is that history has recorded those who were most influential to this movement, segregating the ideas and work of minorities, primarily of Mexican Americans in this country. Despite this, the work of Jovita Idar Juarez never once faltered during her life and can now be seen on an equal level, placing her within the ranks of those who fought for the equal rights of women over time. Through the combined efforts of all these extraordinary women, the progression of equal rights in this country is something, which will never again be in doubt.


Berson, Robin. Marching to a different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994.

Gibson, Karen. Jovita Idar. Delaware: Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2003.

Nicolasa Bilman, interview by John Cadena, San Antonio, October 8, 2015.

Palomo, Teresa, and Ruthe Winegarten. Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.

Perales, Monica, and Raul Ramos. Recovering the Hispanic History of Texas. Houston: Arte Publico Press, 2010.

Ows. “Tejano History Curriculum Project.” The College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin. Accessed October 9, 2015.ónica-text

[1] Karen Gibson, Jovita Idar (Delaware: Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2003), 9-10.

[2] Nicolasa Bilman, interview by John Cadena, San Antonio, October 8, 2015.

[3] ‘’ ‘’

[4] Robin Berson, Marching to a different Drummer: Unrecognized Heroes of American History (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994), 152-153.

[5] Karen Gibson, Jovita Idar (Delaware: Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2003), 22-23.

[6] “ “

[7] Nicolasa Bilman, interview by John Cadena, San Antonio, October 8, 2015.

[8] Teresa Palomo and Ruthe Winegarten, Las Tejanas: 300 Years of History. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003), 84-85

[9] “Tejano History Curriculum Project,” The College of Education at The University of Texas at Austin, accessed October 9, 2015,ónica-text

A look into the Hive

A Look into the Hive


Sweetwater, Feb, 5 – At present time, we are at war on two fronts. With every morsel, our boys are fighting for this great nation, across the Atlantic on unknown lands, that of which we can only imagined. For those Americans here on the home front, it is our responsibility to prove to these hero’s that we support their efforts as well as reassure them that all is not lost as they defend this great county. For some this means rationing food products, for others manufacturing equipment and for all maintaining a strong spirit. For one group of Americans though, this home front effort has been taken to a new level right here in Sweetwater, it is the opinion of many that such extreme measures should be left to those of natural strength, so as not to disturb natures space. Though for others, the extreme measure arriving at the doorstep of humble Sweetwater is exactly what is required in a time of war. This call to action I speak of is more commonly known as the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, or (WASP) of the U.S. Army Airforces. Moving here from Houston, this band of women is comprised of mostly commercial housewives rather then certified military pilots. For this reason, popular opinion is skeptical at best as to how effective they will be. These women will be traveling to our great town from cities all across the great United of States, 1,800 in fact. Through records obtained, it seems the role these women will play in the war effort is one which will not see them in combat but rather have then in the cock pit of air crafts our men will be using in defense against the enemy. These women will find themselves preforming such task as in air target towing, testing of aircraft capabilities, and transporting aircrafts from post to port in preparation for shipment to the war effort. As mentioned before, of greatest concern is whether or not these ordinary housewives have what it takes to accomplish such as task. To this, only time will tell. Though the surrounding county is encouraged to remember their wholesome roots and show these women the upmost respect as they embark on this journey, so that we may do our part and defeat the fallacy that is Adolph Hitler.

Lewis, Wallace. “Fly Girls: The WWII Women’s Airforce Service Pilots.” Film & History 39, no. 1 (2009). Accessed October 6, 2015.

McLeRoy, Sherrie. Texas Women First: Leading Ladies of Lone Star History. Charleston: The History Press, 2015.