The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003

Class and Consensus

American organizations in Victoria: the American Citizens' Social
Club; the American G.I. Forum; LULAC; and the De Le6n Club. The
first two organizations were firmly rooted in the working class. LULAC,
nationally, had been born of and sustained by the Mexican American
middle class, but in Victoria it was comprised of a predominantly work-
ing-class membership. The De Le6n club was clearly and consciously
rooted in Victoria's Mexican American middle class. Although there
were social tensions between individual members of these organiza-
tions, all four remained true to a homogeneous definition of citizen-
ship founded upon a belief that Mexican Americans were first-class cit-
izens, equal with Anglo Americans, and an acceptance of a core set of
values, practices, and beliefs that had come to define mainstream
American life.
These normative values, practices, and beliefs allowed an ideological
space for Victoria's Mexican Americans to engage in resistance to
oppression and discrimination while claiming equal citizenship by tak-
ing on the role of the loyal opposition. In this way, Victoria's Mexican
Americans challenged, in the latter twentieth century, the social, politi-
cal, and economic status quo by employing the weapons of citizenship:
the ballot box and the courts. The most significant challenge to a dis-
criminatory society, however, involved the long-term strategy of promot-
ing higher education among Mexican American youth. By spending the
majority of their time and energy raising college scholarship money,
Victoria's Mexican Americans sought to challenge racism and the atten-
dant limits it placed on Mexican American freedom. Their goal of
swelling the ranks of the Mexican American middle class stands in con-
trast to depictions of Mexican Americans experiences in other scholarly
works. Further, the consensual ideology that led to the desire to increase
the size of the middle class is not explained adequately by current theo-
retical assumptions.
Richard Garcia's treatment of the Mexican American middle class in
San Antonio from 1929 to 1941 helps shed light on events in Victoria.
According to Garcia, the League of United Latin American Citizens, as
the vanguard of the ascendant middle class, developed a loyalty to
Democratic politics as practiced in Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.4
Garcia's middle class was one that opposed segregation and prejudice
and embraced the extant political and economic systems. The same is
true of Victoria, but with two important differences. First, Garcia's mid-
dle class in San Antonio had a somewhat different struggle than did the
4 Richard A. Garcia, Rise of the Mexzcan American Mzddle Class: San Antonzo, 1929-1941 (College
Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991), 301.

2002

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/. Accessed August 29, 2014.