June 19, 2020

These Photos Show San Antonio's Long and Powerful History of Street Protests

San Antonians have shown their dedication to racial justice by taking to the streets in recent weeks and raising their voices against police brutality.

It's part of a long history of protest in the city that also includes workers' rights struggles, pushes for racial integration and fights to win respect for marginalized communities. These actions moved our city forward by holding officials and businesses accountable — but there's clearly much work still to be done.

Take a look at San Antonio's radical history in these photos from UTSA's Digital Collections.
Scroll down to view images

Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future. Join the San Antonio Current Press Club for as little as $5 a month

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.
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.
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.
San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
A female laundry worker on strike tries to wrest open door of speeding truck carrying workers across the picket line.
San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
A female laundry worker on strike tries to wrest open door of speeding truck carrying workers across the picket line.
San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
Picketers rushed on cars of workers entering San Antonio Laundry during strike. Police intervened but no arrests were made.
San Antonio Laundry Strike, 1937
Picketers rushed on cars of workers entering San Antonio Laundry during strike. Police intervened but no arrests were made.
John F. Kennedy Visits San Antonio, 1963
NAACP members greeted President John F. Kennedy with signs protesting segregation during one of his Texas campaign stops. Kennedy was assasinated in Dallas two weeks later.
John F. Kennedy Visits San Antonio, 1963
NAACP members greeted President John F. Kennedy with signs protesting segregation during one of his Texas campaign stops. Kennedy was assasinated in Dallas two weeks later.
MAYO Protest, 1968
Protesters gathered at Our Lady of the Lake University with signs to criticize Captain Allee of the Texas Rangers. Allee's tactics while dealing with previous protests were said to be biased, violent and brutal.
MAYO Protest, 1968
Protesters gathered at Our Lady of the Lake University with signs to criticize Captain Allee of the Texas Rangers. Allee's tactics while dealing with previous protests were said to be biased, violent and brutal.
Southern Pecan Shelling Company Strike, 1938
Led by Emma Tenayuca, 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 citywide uprising of San Antonio’s poorest and most oppressed citizens.
Southern Pecan Shelling Company Strike, 1938
Led by Emma Tenayuca, 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 citywide uprising of San Antonio’s poorest and most oppressed citizens.
Southern Pecan Shelling Company Strike, 1938
A 1927 Ford Roadster pickup truck is decorated with slogans supporting the pecan shellers' strike. An unidentified police officer is steering the car as it's towed down the street following arrest of owner for violating a city sign ordinance.
Southern Pecan Shelling Company Strike, 1938
A 1927 Ford Roadster pickup truck is decorated with slogans supporting the pecan shellers' strike. An unidentified police officer is steering the car as it's towed down the street following arrest of owner for violating a city sign ordinance.