In 1938, 10,000 pecan shellers in San Antonio went on strike. These were not your typical blue-collar workers. They were women; they were children; they were the elderly; and they were poor. But primarily, they were Mexican. On this episode of Fronteras, we talk to filmmaker Anne Lewis about her new documentary, “A Strike and an Uprising (in Texas)” (0:16).
Then, TPR’s David Martin Davies tells us about the “secret history" of San Antonio (12:34).
'A Strike And An Uprising'
The documentary covers two worker strikes in the Lone Star State: the 1938 Pecan Shellers strike, and a 1987 march by university employees in Nacogdoches.
FRONTERAS EXTRA | Texas Labor Actions Lead To Reform
Lewis documents the working conditions of shellers, which included enclosed rooms with little ventilation and no sanitary facilities. Pecan dust was everywhere, which led to high incidents of lung disease like asthma and tuberculosis.
The workers went on strike against Southern Pecan Shelling Company, led by local labor and civil rights leader Emma Tenayuca.
Alamo City’s Secret History
There’s much more to remember about San Antonio than just the Alamo — like, in 1957, when State Senator Henry B. Gonzalez spoke for 36 hours straight in opposition to a battery of bills designed to prevent desegregation in Texas. It’s events like these that are hiding away in the crevasses of the city’s vast history. Davies helps fill in the gaps with his self-published comic, “San Antonio: Secret History.”
Davies said his fascination with the Alamo City’s seldom-told stories lie in examples of racism and segregation in the 1950s.