Emma Tenayuca born in 1916, was a well-known figure in San Antonio politics and the dominant force in the Workers Alliance, a national organization formed by the Communist Party USA during the Great Depression. In the Mexican-American community, she was known as “La Pasionaria,” recognizing the Spanish Civil War Republican heroine Dolores Ibarruri.
Tenayuca, whose husband, Homer Brooks, was a former Communist Party USA gubernatorial candidate, had led sit-downs at City Hall and battled pay cuts in the Work Projects Administration. She was an articulate leader who offered her help for the 1938 pecan shellers strike. On February 7, Donald Henderson, president of the United Cannery Union, arrived to direct the strike. He soon passed this responsibility to CIO organizer J. Austin Beasley and withdrew from formal leadership of the strike, while continuing to play a major role in the day-to-day activities.
The People's Weekly World of May 20 2000, carried a May Day Supplement. On page B, San Antonio activists paid tribute to contributors to the "worker's cause" Emma Tenayuca (1916-1999), John Inman (1896-1996), Manuela Soliz Sager (1911-1996), James Sager (1902-1979), Luisa Moreno (1906-1992).
Texas Workers Alliance
A group, named the Texas Workers Alliance, led by labor activists and communists Emma Tenayuca and Manuela Sager, formed in 1934 to foster communism in San Antonio. In 1938, the young Latinas and their followers began working with the Pecan Shelling Workers Union to encourage San Antonio shellers to protest poor working conditions and low pay.