Mar 31, 2022 - News

Five Austin women who made history

Illustration of the word history with a female symbol standing in for the T and O.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

As we conclude Women’s History Month, we've rounded up a handful of important women in Texas' history.

Details: They're all based here in Austin.

Lorraine Camacho
  • An East Austin civil rights organizer, Camacho was the granddaughter of Mexican Americans who settled in Austin in the 1870s.
  • Camacho, known as "Grandma," worked in the food service department at Zavala and Metz elementary schools in the late 1960s and '70s while rallying for equal education opportunities and an end to the environmental degradation of East Austin neighborhoods.
Almetris Duren
  • Almetris Duren taught home economics at Huston-Tillotson College before becoming the housemother of a UT dorm, which was opened for Black women attending the university in 1956.
  • She was soon known as "Mama Duren" and made the Eliza Dee Hall dormitory a safe haven for Black students on campus. She received a number of honors, including the Margaret C. Berry award for outstanding contributions to student life at UT.
Emma Barrientos
  • Barrientos, wife of former state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, was an advocate for arts and culture in Austin, championing the city's Mexican American Cultural Center, which is now named after her.
  • She also served on the founding board of the Mexic-Arte Museum and board president of the Austin Museum of Art, and she helped establish the Mexican folk dance school company Ballet Folklórico de Texas.
Angelina Eberly
  • Eberly protected important public documents from being removed by Sam Houston. Many feared he planned to relocate the capital of Texas to Houston, and the movement of the documents would bring that plan to fruition.
  • To guard the archives, Eberly fired a 6-pound cannon into the vicinity of the General Land Office. The archives were successfully returned to the city shortly after.
Ann Richards
  • Richards received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and a teaching certificate from the University of Texas. She taught social studies and history at Fulmore Junior High School in Austin and later became a Travis County commissioner and the treasurer of the state of Texas.
  • Richards became the second woman to govern Texas and reformed the state’s prison system and appointed more women and people of color to state positions than the previous two governors combined.
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