Mar 12, 2024 - Culture

10 interesting facts about historic San Antonio women

Illustration of the word history with a female symbol standing in for the T and O.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

As we celebrate Women's History Month, we're looking back at influential local women and the trailblazing histories they've left us.

Yes, but: Keep in mind San Antonio is one of the oldest cities in Texas and it would be impossible to summate the accomplishments of local women.

  • Here are a few women, past and present, who have made a difference.

Emma Tenayuca was 21 when she led the pecan shellers strike.

  • It's remembered as one of the earliest and largest actions for Mexican American civil rights in U.S. history.

Mary Eleanor Brackenridge helped lead the Texas Woman Suffrage Association in 1913 and, in 1918, at 81, she became the first woman in Bexar County to register to vote.

Rear Adm. Yvette Adams, in January, became the first woman to head the U.S. Naval Academy.

In February 1908, Adina De Zavala barricaded herself in the long barracks of the Alamo to stop it from being razed.

  • She later formed the Texas Historical and Landmarks Association.

UTSA professor emerita Ellen Riojas Clark was recognized with an endowed chair in bicultural-bilingual studies last December, making her the first Latina in the U.S. to earn such recognition.

Katherine Stinson, who started the Stinson School of Flying in San Antonio in 1915, was the fourth woman in the U.S. to earn her pilot's license.

Ivy Taylor was the first Black woman to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city in 2015.

Civil rights activist Dorothy Collins was one of the first Black teachers to integrate the faculty of Winston Elementary in 1963.

  • That same year, she taught singer Gloria Estefan.

Educator Belle Ortiz advocated for mariachi music to be taught at Lanier High School in the 1970s.

  • She is considered the "godmother" of mariachi education in schools.

At age 17, Mary Lillian Andrews wrote letters to major downtown stores, urging them to integrate their lunch counters.

  • Her endeavors culminated in the eventual desegregation on March 16, 1960, which marked San Antonio as the first Southern city to do so.

Esperanza "Hope" Andrade was the first Latina Texas Secretary of State. She held office from 2008 to 2012.


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