Sara Estela Ramirez
A feminist and poet, Sara Estela Ramirez became involved in a number of political causes at the start of the twentieth century. Ahead of her time, she made an indelible impression on the politics and culture of Texas in her short life.
Ramirez was born in Progreso, Coahuila, Mexico. Her mother died when she was a young girl, and she educated her¬ self and raised her siblings at the same time. Ramirez studied to become a teacher.In 1898, she began her first job, in Laredo, Texas, at the Seminario de Laredo.
In Texas, Ramirez became a political activist. Although the former Mexican state had joined the United States more than fifty years earlier, tension between Mexicans and Anglos remained high. Discrimination against Hispanics was commonplace. Ramirez became involved with the Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM), an organization that fought for the rights of Mexicans and Mexican Americans who lived in Texas.
At the time, men in Texas who spoke out on behalf of the PLM often faced harassment and discrimination. Women activists, however, were often not treated as badly. Being a female activist worked to Ramirez’s advantage, and she became one of the most important figures in the PLM.
Ramirez was an outspoken advocate for the PLM. She wrote poems, essays, and articles and gave speeches that carried the party’s message. Her writings and speeches were pub¬ lished in local papers, such as La Cronica and El Democratica Fronterizo. Beginning in 1904, she published her own daily periodicals, La Corregidora and then Aurora. In addition, she wrote and starred in a play, which was pro¬ duced in Laredo playhouses.
Through her involvement with the PLM, Ramirez also became an inspiration to the labor and women’s rights movements. She gave one of her most famous speeches, “Alocucion,” at the twenty-fourth anniversary of the found¬ ing of the Sociedad de Obreros (Society of Workers). In it, she described workers as “the arm, the heart of the world . . . integral parts of human progress.”
She was a feminist before feminism became a national movement. Shortly before her death, she wrote one of her most well-known poems, “A la mujer” (“To the woman”). In it, she tells women to “rise to life, to activity, to the beau¬ ty of really living.”Ramirez enjoyed wide popularity and was a woman of great potential, but unfortunately, her life ended early. She died in 1910, at the age of twenty-nine, of an unidentified illness.