Emma Tenayuca

Changemakers from ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now

The Print

Media - 2020.20.89 - SAAM-2020.20.89_1 - 138865

Rupert García, Chicano Research as a Catalyst for Social Change, 1977, offset lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald D. Kohs), 2020.20.89, © 1977, Rupert García

Rupert García
born French Camp, California 1941

Chicano Research as a Catalyst for Social Change
offset lithograph on paper
Gift from the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald D. Kohs), 2020.20.89

To create this print, García relied on a historical photograph of Emma Tenayuca. In their work, Chicano artists frequently resurrect earlier radical figures to reveal precursors to Chicano activism. This 1977 poster promotes one of the earliest convenings of the National Caucus of Chicano Social Scientists, later known as the National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies. Formed in 1972, the organization remains dedicated to supporting and disseminating Chicanx scholarship.

The Person

A photograph of a woman.

San Antonio Light Photograph Collection, MS 359, University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections © San Antonio Express-News /ZUMA Press

Emma Tenayuca
born 1916 – San Antonio, Texas
died 1999 – San Antonio, Texas

“I just have a feeling, a very strong feeling, that if ever this world is civilized, that it would be more the work of women.”

In 1938, labor organizer and community activist Emma Tenayuca led a successful pecan shellers strike in San Antonio. Tenayuca’s prolific activism began in her teen years, and she remained on the front lines of labor organization until she was forced to leave Texas out of fear for her safety. She eventually returned to San Antonio and became a teacher. At her funeral, Chicana writer Carmen Tafolla praised Tenayuca for “speaking out at a time when neither Mexicans nor women were expected to speak at all.”