Dear Portal friends: Do you enjoy having history at your fingertips? We’ve appreciated your support over the years, and need your help to keep history alive. Here’s the deal: we’ve received a Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Now it’s time to keep our word and raise matching funds for the Cathy Nelson Hartman Portal to Texas History Endowment. If even half the people who use the Portal this month give $5, we’d meet our $1.5 million goal immediately! All donations are tax-deductible and support Texas history: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Not Now

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

38 Southwestern Historical Quarterly July
awareness.12 They were aware of the significance of socio-economic sta-
tus just as they understood the notion of social stratification. Within this
understanding they simply sought to carve out a niche within the exist-
ing social and economic systems in which to achieve upward mobility for
themselves and their children. By so doing they resisted the extant cli-
mate of discrimination and oppression. Their resistance, which held
equal American citizenship as its ultimate goal, involved political
activism and education.
Trying to view Victoria's Mexican American past through the eyes of
the participants renders strict social categories such as middle class, and
working class inadequate. With this understanding in mind, it also seems
appropriate to apply the term "professional class" in place of the more
traditional "middle class." This is an important difference because "mid-
dle class" has referred to a socioeconomic group that has stood in a cer-
tain relationship to the means and methods of production. In the lives
and minds of Victoria's Mexican Americans, such a construction was not
applicable. From their perspective, it was an educated professional class
of doctors, lawyers, politicians, and businessmen that could provide
respectability and leadership in the quest for equality. With the goal of
achieving social and political equality in mind, the founding members of
the American Citizens' Social Club held their first meeting.
When the group first met in the parish hall of Our Lady of Sorrows
Catholic Church in 1947, founding members of the ACSC made a con-
scious decision to use the words "American Citizens" to emphasize their
sense of citizenship, which was informed by both a pride in their ethnic
past and a renewed patriotism spurred by World War II. The ACSC con-
stitution was written in Spanish. Its meetings were conducted in a combi-
nation of Spanish and English. Its founders never desired to escape or
distance themselves from their culture, or their history, but ACSC mem-
bers did seek to gain inclusion into American society on an equal basis
with Anglos. The name "American Citizens" was not an attempt to
accommodate Anglo expectations of normal behavior. Rather, it was an
active, carefully made choice designed to assert publicly the member-
ship's ideology, which was at once ethnically Mexican and nationalisti-
cally American. In developing a name for the group, founding members
decided against other potential names such as "Latin American," or
"Spanish Speaking American," because they wished to emphasize their
rights as mainstream, not marginal, citizens. These original members
L2 For an extended sociological discussion of the concept of class awareness see Mary R.
Jackman and Robert W. Jackman, Class Awareness zn the United States (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1983). For a similar discussion in a more historical context see Blumin,
Emergence of the Middle Class, 285-290.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 30, 2016.

Beta Preview