Heritage Award Winner - 2014

7
Oct

Dr. Emma Lou Linn, Ph.D. – “Uppity Woman,” Rodeo Queen and PSA Founder

It’s 1975, and Emma Lou Linn has just been inaugurated as only the second woman to the Austin City Council. With tongue in cheek, she’s wearing a button on her shirt, “Uppity Women Unite,” and is quickly thrown into the fire at her first councilmeeting with a dramatic vote on renaming 19th Street as “M.L.K Blvd.” – a measure she eloquently advocated for.  The drama was not just due to the explosive testimony – the opposition peppering theirs with racist venom (exposing Austin as not-so-liberal and tolerant a city as it believes itself to be) – but when Huston-Tillotsen’s president emeritus J.J. Seabrook stands to argue for the M.L.K. designation to continue west of I-35, he suddenly collapses onto the floor in pain. Ms. Linn rushes from behind the dais to administer mouth to mouth resuscitation, and a photo is taken that goes nationwide. Unfortunately, Mr. Seabrook succumbed to his heart attack, but Councilmember Linn was now both a hero and a villain for attempting to save the life of an African-American man, for which she received a multitude of death threats.

Besides her many preservation efforts and various accomplishments – academic and otherwise, Ms. Linn helped found the Pecan Street Association, and for many, many years, administered to its longevity – for which we are eternally grateful.

Below are photos of an archived Austin-American Statesman story (that unfortunately no longer has an HTML link) that describes this “truly remarkable” woman’s life.

Emma Lou Linn attempting to revive J.J. Seabrook, April, 1975

Thanks to Michael Barnes of The Statesman for an extraordinary portrait.