Jan 26, 2023 - Politics

San Antonio labor leader Emma Tenayuca is honored

Emma Tenayuca.

Emma Tenayuca in the family home in 1937. Photo: Tenayuca family

A Southtown street is set to get a new name in honor of the late Emma Tenayuca, San Antonio's iconic labor and civil rights activist.

Driving the news: The City Council is scheduled to vote Thursday to designate Cevallos Street between I-35 and Probandt Street as Emma Tenayuca Memorial Way. It will not require any address changes.

Why it matters: Tenayuca is now lauded by labor-friendly politicians, but it wasn't always that way.

Context: She is known for leading the 1938 pecan shellers' strike. The workers were largely Mexican American women who dealt with low wages and poor working conditions.

Flashback: In 2021, a St. Mary's University student organized a failed push to rename a different Southtown street after Tenayuca, per MySA.com.

  • A petition asked the council to consider renaming Beauregard Street, named after Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.

What they're saying: "We have the opportunity as a City to honor one of San Antonio's very own labor and civil rights champions in Emma Tenayuca," West Side Councilmember Teri Castillo tells Axios in a statement. "While she was initially shunned from San Antonio after the pecan shellers’ strike, her passion and vision rings true for working people today."

What's next: On Saturday, Castillo's District 5 will host a celebration to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the pecan shellers' strike. Join from 3-5pm at Cassiano Park.


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