The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican-American Political Organization. By Benjamin
Marquez. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993. Pp. x+141. Acknowledg-
ments, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-29275-152-4- $25.00.)
The recent ruling in Murillo v. Musegades, INS, vindicated a number of El Pa-
soans who were victimized by the INS simply for appearing Latino. This legal vic-
tory underscores the long history of the struggle for equal rights by Mexican
Americans. Benjamin Marquez's book, LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican-Ameri-
can Political Organization, contributes to the historiography of Mexican American
civil rights struggles that scholars have traditionally limited to the 196os. By ap-
plying incentive theory and exchange theory models, Marquez examines the ten-
sion between material incentives at the early mobilization stage of organizational
development and the shift to solitary benefits in the organization's final bureau-
cratization stage. He further problematizes the incentive theory model through
a careful examination of racial politics as these motivate individual members
and inform their relationship to the larger community, the legal system, and the
corporate world. As illustrated above, despite the success of LULAC Mexican
Americans continue to be challenged by discriminatory policies and practices.
Marquez identifies the "activist" phase of mobilization from 1929 to the
1960s, with a short break during World War II, where LULAC's organizational
structure and ideology focused on "collective (purposive) benefits" (p. 7) and
material rewards which "preserved the foundation of the economic status quo
and fine-tuned American social institutions to accommodate yet another immi-
grant group" (p. 19). Challenged by the Chicano movimiento, LULAC shifted its
focus to solitary rewards and symbolic benefits limiting the organization to a net-
work for political, professional, and social benefits for a rising middle class suc-
cessful in achieving the organization's earliest goals.
Unfortunately, Marquez fails to explain adequately the challenges posed by
the Chicano movimiento. The reader is faced with a central paradox: LULAC has
a significant impact with politicians and corporate elites without a substantial
grassroots network. In the course of LULAC's later "activist" stage during the
1950s, the rank and file accepted important defeats in school integration, while
at the same moment members accepted that "racial equality had been achieved"
(p. 87). In the wake of the 196os, LULAC established a "high profile or claim to
speak on behalf of the entire Hispanic community" (p. 88) without a significant
membership. In short, LULAC failed to articulate new material rewards and
shifted from an "activist" organization guided by an ideology of assimilation to a
bureaucracy which depends on corporate and foundation funds. Solitary bene-
fits were always central to the early organization of LULAC and explain its even-
tual transformation. LULAC's bureaucratization fulfilled its ideology of
assimilation and accommodation since it consistently provided an important
"network" for well-educated Mexican Americans concerned with educational ad-
vancement and economic opportunity.


University of Texas at Austzn


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed May 29, 2016.

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