Before César Chávez or Che Guevara there was Emma Tenayuca — who at the mere age of 21 led the fight for fair wages and improved working conditions among pecan shellers in the 1920s. Authors Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca (Emma's niece) penned That's Not Fair!/¡No Es Justo!
, a bilingual children's book, in homage to the crusade that Emma dutifully fought for.
The pre-publication book that I received, masterfully illustrated by Terry Ybáñez, was not yet bound but that didn't stop me from cracking it open and reading the inspirational story of Emma. As a child, Emma is depicted as an avid reader. When her friend Maria confesses to her that she hasn't learned to read because her family went away to pick crops, the "lightning in Emma's eyes" flashes and she begins to pick up on the unfair world around her. She incites change through tiny acts of kindness, like giving three young boys an apple and to their mother her new blue sweater.
Twelve years later, when Emma was 21 she took it upon herself to be the voice of the pecan shellers as they battled unfair wages and horrendous working conditions. Although she was met with laughter as she organized a pecan shellers' walk out, she did manage to gather 12,000 pecan shellers to trust her while she fought for their rights. The book is an ideal read for middle-school aged children with a page count of 38 and a brief one-page bio on Emma complete with a handful of pictures of her in full-protest mode. Be on the look out for Sharyll and Tafolla's full adult biography on Emma and a chapter book for middle-grade readers to follow.
That's Not Fair!/¡No Es Justo!
is scheduled official publication date is set for March 2008, however pre-publication copies will be available at the book premiere. A reading, book-signing, film preview, art auction, and music provided by Conjunto Aztlán will also be slated for the event.
EMMA TENAYUCA BOOK PREMIÉRE Y CELEBRACIÓN
$20 Esperanza Peace & Justice Center
922 San Pedro
(210) 228-0201 esperanzacenter.org