RAMÍREZ, SARA ESTELA (1881–1910). Sara Estela Ramírez, poet and political figure, was born in Villa de Progreso, Coahuila, Mexico, in 1881. Her mother died during her youth, leaving her to take care of her father and younger sister. She spent her early years in northern Mexico, completed public school in Monterrey, Nuevo León, and graduated from Ateneo Fuentes, a teachers' college in Saltillo, Coahuila. In 1898, at the age of seventeen, she settled in Laredo, Texas, and took a position as a Spanish teacher at the Seminario Laredo. She spent the rest of her life in that city, where she became a popular writer among Mexican Americans and a prominent supporter of the Partido Liberal Mexicano, the most progressive political party in the era leading to the Mexican Revolution. As a leader in PLM, Ramírez often represented the party before the public, due to the harassment of the group by local authorities and Pinkerton and Furlong detectives. She was a close friend of Ricardo Flores Magón, noted leader of the PLM, with whom she corresponded between 1901 and 1904.
She probably published most of her poetry and essays in such Spanish-language newspapers as El Demócrata Fronterizo and La Crónica, two influential journals in South Texas at the turn of the century. Starting in June 1901, she herself became a publisher of two newspapers-La Corregidora and Aurora. The former, which featured literary works, was printed in Mexico City and distributed in Laredo and San Antonio. It is likely that Ramírez published La Corregidora while working for PLM in Mexico and Texas. During the last years of her life, she also oversaw the publication of Aurora in Laredo. No copies of either newspaper are extant. In addition to her direct involvement with these publications, she also collaborated with Juana Gutiérrez B. de Mendoza on Vesper: Justicia y Libertad, another newspaper for the Mexican working class and women. Her journalism was apparently tied to her work with Regeneración y Concordia, a feminist organization to which she belonged. Ramírez joined hands with Juana Gutiérrez B. de Mendoza, Elisa Acuña y Rosetti, and Dolores Jiménez y Muro to bring attention to women's concerns and is considered, along with them, one of the founders of Mexican feminism.
Twenty-one of her poems and essays, all published between January 8, 1908, and April 9, 1910, constitute the body of her known work. These pieces, though small in number, have provided insights into her ideas about politics, women, and Tejanos. They have also illuminated the literary interests and achievements of Texas Mexican women, whose works have remained largely unpublished. Moreover, her political activities on behalf of PLM and women's causes made her a forerunner to the founders of Ladies LULAC, the American G.I. Forum Women's Auxiliary, and Mujeres por la Raza. Writers who emerged from the Chicano movement and the Chicano Literary Renaissance also owe a large debt to her contributions. Ramírez's poems, all presumably written in Spanish, cover at least four themes: "philosophy, politics, male-female relationships, and sisterhood." Works such as "Diamantes Negros," "A Juárez," "Huye" ("Flee"), and "Surge" address some of these themes, with the poet ranging over a wide array of emotions in each one. In "Diamantes Negros" she stresses the existence of grave obstacles to happiness and catalogues ways to overcome them; in "A Juárez" she combines an ode to patriotism with a recollection of Mexico's struggle to gain freedom; in "Huye" she raises the problem of maintaining one's faith in life; and in "Surge" she asserts the reality of female strength. Further, Ramírez evoked the bicultural nature of Tejano life along the border throughout her work. Besides her poetry, she wrote a play, "Noema," and published a few of the speeches she made to the members of the Sociedad de Obreros (Workers' Society). One of these talks-"Igualdad y Progreso" ("Equality and Progress")-reflected her participation in the local labor-unionizing efforts among Hispanics.
Ramírez was about twenty-nine years old when she died on August 21, 1910, in Laredo, twelve years after arriving in Texas. She had apparently been ill for some time, but the exact cause of her death is unknown. She was eulogized in La Crónica by fellow writer Jovita Idar, who praised her accomplishments and bestowed on her the nickname "La Musa Texana."
Magdalena Mora and Adelaida R. del Castillo, Mexican Women in the United States (Los Angeles: Chicano Studies Research Center, University of California, 1980). Inés Hernández Tovar, Sara Estela Ramírez: The Early Twentieth Century Texas-Mexican Poet (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Houston, 1984).
Teresa Palomo Acosta
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