Mexican-American Human Rights Activist Emma Tenayuca Honored at Holiday Posada

Hola Queridos! Here’s a little history lesson about a Mexican-American human rights activist from San Antonio who happens to be a woman. I’ve included a few resources to teach others about Emma Tenayuca. On her 100th birthday, San Antonio will celebrate and honor her once again.

Emma Tenayuca - Mexican-American Human Rights Activist
Emma Tenayuca – Mexican-American Human Rights Activist (Photo: Wikipedia)

Dec 21, 2016 will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Emma Tenayuca, San Antonio’s acclaimed labor and human rights activist, who died at the age of 83 on July 23, 1999. To celebrate her birthday, a dozen community partners will kick off a series of events to both honor the historic icon’s lifelong commitment to justice and compassion for the poor, and to encourage community awareness among our city’s children.

WATCH this video from UTSA’s Institute for Texan Cultures to learn more about Tenayuca’s early life, the beginning of her activist work and the 1938 Pecan Sheller’s Strike in San Antonio. Concerned about poor workers rights, Tenayuca joined the Communist Party in 1937. She was scheduled to speak at a meeting of the Communist Party in 1939 but had to be escorted to safety after a riot broke out at San Antonio’s Municipal Auditorium. She then moved away from San Antonio as she could no longer find work in the city. She lived in California and Houston for some time before returning to San Antonio. Realizing Tenayuca was ahead of her time, organizations began to honor her with awards and recognition.

Emma Tenayuca Education Resources

THE HISPANIC EXPERIENCE – Civil Rights Movement: EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF EMMA TENAYUCA – A timeline of Emma Tenayuca’s life events from The Houston Institute for Culture.

Book: That’s Not Fair! / ¡No Es Justo!: Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice/La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia by Carmenn Tafolla – A vivid depiction of the early injustices encountered by a young Mexican-American girl in San Antonio in the 1920’s, this book tells the true story of Emma Tenayuca. Emma learns to care deeply about poverty and hunger during a time when many Mexican Americans were starving to death and working unreasonably long hours at slave wages in the city’s pecan-shelling factories. Through astute perception, caring, and personal action, Emma begins to get involved, and eventually, at the age of 21, leads 12,000 workers in the first significant historical action in the Mexican-American struggle for justice. Emma Tenayuca’s story serves as a model for young and old alike about courage, compassion, and the role everyone can play in making the world more fair.


Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center Holiday Posada Honors Emma Tenayuca

The year’s commemorative events will begin with a 100th Birthday Party at the Guadalupe Theater (1301 Guadalupe St.), Wednesday Dec 21st from 7-8:30pm in which a giant cake with 100 candles and a hundred quotes from Emma will be blown out by the attendees, in a Windstorm of Justice. The evening’s events also include a sneak preview segment of a new version of the children’s play about Emma, a short film, a reading, and a birthday piñata.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center will dedicate their Holiday Posada to Emma, which will begin at 6pm, and the 100th birthday celebration begins at 7pm. Come join the fun!

Date: Dec 21. 2016
Time: 7pm
Location: Guadalupe Theater (1301 Guadalupe St.) FREE – All Ages




Community Partners:

Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center


Esperanza Peace and Justice Center Wings Press

Edgewood ISD

Harlandale ISD

*Other ISD’s (Northeast, Northside)

Intercultural Development Reseach Associates

Dr. Carmen Tafolla, friend and biographer of Emma Tenayuca Ms. Sharyll Teneyuca, niece and biographer of Emma Tenayuca

*This post contains affiliate links which means QMW may make poquito dinero for any purchases completed.