St. Mary’s University graduate student launches online petition for monument of labor activist Emma Tenayuca

Online petition aimed at gathering support for city funding, donations

SAN ANTONIO – The late labor activist Emma Tenayuca has had numerous tributes since the late 1930′s when she led a successful strike by thousands of pecan shellers, among the city’s lowest paid workers at the time.

Gwyn Hartung, a senior in the master of arts in public history program at St. Mary’s University, saw a play based on a bilingual children’s book about Tenayuca, “No Es Justo, It’s not Fair,” published in 2008, co-authored by her niece, attorney Sharyll Tenayuca.

Already interested in labor activism, Hartung said, “It was written for children, but I could still feel the core message and it really inspired me.”

KSAT 12 News reporter Jessie Degollado visits with Gwyn Hartung, a senior in the master of arts in public history program at St. Mary’s University, at the Texas historical marker in Milam Park downtown honoring the late labor activist Emma Tenayuca. (KSAT)

Hartung said she was aware of several murals depicting Tenayuca and the Texas historical marker in Milam Park downtown, where she as a young girl would listen to people talking about the issues of the day.

To augment the historical marker, Hartung said, “I now would like a more visible permanent monument for Emma Tenayuca, designed and created and installed by local artists.”

Hartung said it could be a statue or whatever inspires the artist the most. She said submissions can be emailed directly to the Emma Tenayuca Project.

Hartung has an online petition to generate support to present to the San Antonio City Council in hopes of getting its approval, and to generate city funding and private donations.

She said a monument portraying a young woman who defended the working poor would be good “for the future generations of San Antonio to know that someone from their community can make these huge changes.”

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About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.