Emma Tenayuca

Lived:December 21, 1916—July 23, 1999 (aged 82)
Career:Labor activist
Education:B.A., San Francisco State College
M.A., Our Lady Of the Lake University

Emma Tenayuca was a labor activist in Texas during the 1930’s, best known for her passionate speeches.

Born on December 21, 1916, in San Antonio, Texas, Tenayuca started her activism early. She was arrested during a protest in 1933, at just 16 years old. She graduated from Brackenridge High School in 1934.

After high school, Tenayuca founded two international ladies' garment workers unions and was involved in the Worker's Alliance of America and Woman's League for Peace and Freedom. She organized a protest over the beating of Mexican migrants by United States Border Patrol agents and was instrumental in the 1938 Pecan Shellers Strike in San Antonio. In August of 1939, Tenayuca received death threats due to her involvement with the Communist Party and was blacklisted in San Antonio, forcing her to relocate to Houston, Texas, and eventually San Francisco, California.

Tenayuca earned a bachelor of arts in education from San Francisco State College (now San Francisco State University) in 1952. In 1968, she returned to San Antonio and received a Master's degree in education from Our Lady Of the Lake University in San Antonio. She taught in the Harlandale School District in San Antonio until her retirement in 1982.

Emma Tenayuca died on July 23, 1999.