Emma Pauline Jackson Long, civic leader, journalist, and first woman to serve on the Austin city council, was born on February 29, 1912, in Lefors, Texas. She was the second of six children born to Robert Rudd Jackson and Lillie May (Dot) Jackson, and her parents supported the family financially with income generated from oil produced from their property. The Jackson family shared their wealth by providing a home for a mother with eight children and an apartment for an orphan and his extended family.
Emma Jackson received academic awards and was the first in her family to graduate from college. In 1936 she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin where she majored in history and minored in government. During her junior year at the University of Texas, she met her husband Stuart Morrison Long, and they married in 1936. Stuart worked at the Austin American-Statesman and as the correspondent for the Galveston News Transradio Press. After World War II Stuart and Emma Long established the Long News Service at the Texas Capitol and covered news for twenty-six Texas newspapers as well as national publications like Time, the New York Times, and Newsweek.
Emma Long’s rise in politics began in 1948. Although conservative forces were “gaining a lead in Texas politics” at the time, Long and her liberal friends decided that she should run for a seat on the Austin city council. She was victorious and was the first woman to serve on the council, where she became known as the “voice of the people.” Long, a Democrat, introduced changes within the city by modernizing city streets and improving the Parks and Recreation Board by creating modern libraries, playgrounds, and golf courses. She also advocated civil rights and the desegregation of public facilities. She improved working conditions by framing the Bus Rider’s Association and making utility prices more affordable.
Long made an unsuccessful campaign bid for the Texas Senate in 1957. In 1963 she was reelected to the Austin city council. In the years 1967–69 she served as the first female mayor pro tem in Austin and in this capacity was the first to light the Zilker Christmas Tree. Although she retired in 1969 from the city council, the city still continued to honor her years of service. In 1977 her husband Stuart died at the age of sixty-three. Despite his death, Emma continued to maintain her interest for Democratic politics in Austin.
In 1984 the Austin city council renamed the City Park on Lake Austin as Emma Long Metropolitan Park. A street was later named in her honor in the Mueller district. On January 16, 2011, Emma Pauline Jackson Long died at the age of ninety-eight in Austin. Her funeral was held at the Central Christian Church, and she was buried at the Texas State Cemetery next to her husband Stuart Morrison Long. She was survived by her two sons—Jeb Jackson Long and Jefferson Paine Long and grandchildren Dale Daniels, Vickie Marie Long Alanis, and Virginia Pratt.