June 20, 2018

A Look at San Antonio's Long History with Protests

As people all over the country speak up for racial justice, it's important to remember that older generations of San Antonians also fought for the rights of the oppressed through strikes and peaceful protests. These street actions shook the foundation of our city, calling out unjust employers, racist administrations and unfair policies. Check out these photos of our radical predecessors to see how they fought back against mistreatment of the marginalized and rallied for change.

Photos courtesy of UTSA's Digital Collections
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San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
Seventy-eight employees protested San Antonio Laundry with heavily-worded umbrellas calling for fair treatment.
San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
Seventy-eight employees protested San Antonio Laundry with heavily-worded umbrellas calling for fair treatment.
San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
Police arrested Aurora Vallejo as the American Federation of Labor led a strike against San Antonio Laundry. Despite pressure from the laundry company and the police, women continued to protest unfair treatment and low wages.
San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
Police arrested Aurora Vallejo as the American Federation of Labor led a strike against San Antonio Laundry. Despite pressure from the laundry company and the police, women continued to protest unfair treatment and low wages.
Segregation Protest, 1955
An NAACP member protested segregation outside a Texas Theatre showing the film “Carmen Jones.” Segregation continued to discriminate against African-Americans until 1964.
Segregation Protest, 1955
An NAACP member protested segregation outside a Texas Theatre showing the film “Carmen Jones.” Segregation continued to discriminate against African-Americans until 1964.
CWA Bell Telephone Company Strike, 1985
Cesar Chavez picketed with protesters in support of the Bell Telephone Company Strike. Chavez was an extremely influential labor leader and civil rights activist who still inspires today, so it’s no surprise that he’s on this list.
CWA Bell Telephone Company Strike, 1985
Cesar Chavez picketed with protesters in support of the Bell Telephone Company Strike. Chavez was an extremely influential labor leader and civil rights activist who still inspires today, so it’s no surprise that he’s on this list.
Shirlee Frocks Strike, 1937
Members of the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s union took a break from picketing on Pecos Street. Their strike protested the dismissal of three union employee members and bargained for higher wages.
Shirlee Frocks Strike, 1937
Members of the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s union took a break from picketing on Pecos Street. Their strike protested the dismissal of three union employee members and bargained for higher wages.
Picketing City Hall, 1963
Two NAACP members, including Larry Burns (left), picketed outside of San Antonio's City Hall to protest segregation.
Picketing City Hall, 1963
Two NAACP members, including Larry Burns (left), picketed outside of San Antonio's City Hall to protest segregation.
Red Coach Lettuce Boycott, 1979
The United Farm Workers’ Union, led by Cesar Chavez, protested Red Coach Lettuce's unfair wages. The boycotts, which ended in 1996, became one of the longest farm labor disputes in American history.
Red Coach Lettuce Boycott, 1979
The United Farm Workers’ Union, led by Cesar Chavez, protested Red Coach Lettuce's unfair wages. The boycotts, which ended in 1996, became one of the longest farm labor disputes in American history.
Works Progress Administration Protest, 1937
Emma Tenayuca, fist held high, speaks to a crowd outside of City Hall following a parade protesting a scarcity of jobs within the Works Progress Administration.
Works Progress Administration Protest, 1937
Emma Tenayuca, fist held high, speaks to a crowd outside of City Hall following a parade protesting a scarcity of jobs within the Works Progress Administration.
Emma Tenayuca in Bexar County Jail, 1937
In an event that sparked the Hispanic Workers’ Movement, a young Mexican-American woman defended oppressed workers by fighting for better working conditions and higher wages. The woman, Emma Tenayuca, became known as “La Pasionaria” for her efforts.
Emma Tenayuca in Bexar County Jail, 1937
In an event that sparked the Hispanic Workers’ Movement, a young Mexican-American woman defended oppressed workers by fighting for better working conditions and higher wages. The woman, Emma Tenayuca, became known as “La Pasionaria” for her efforts.
Southern Pecan Shelling Company Strike, 1938
Led by Emma Tunayuca, pecan shellers protested low wages and poor working conditions. Many protesters were gassed, beaten and arrested by San Antonio police, causing the strike to become a city-wide uprising of San Antonio’s poorest and most oppressed citizens.
Southern Pecan Shelling Company Strike, 1938
Led by Emma Tunayuca, pecan shellers protested low wages and poor working conditions. Many protesters were gassed, beaten and arrested by San Antonio police, causing the strike to become a city-wide uprising of San Antonio’s poorest and most oppressed citizens.