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

Class and Consensus

did not conceive of themselves as heroes engaged in a civil rights strug-
gle. Rather, they saw themselves as simple, everyday people who were try-
ing to make life better for their children.1'
The ACSC is significant for several reasons. The club was the first
Mexican American civil rights organization in Victoria's history. Over
the next two decades it became a potent political force and a champion
of equal educational opportunity for Mexican Americans. Further, the
organization mirrored such Mexican working-class traditions as mutual
aid.14 Members were required, for example, to contribute a small
amount annually to a common burial fund. At the same time the ACSC
also reflected Victoria's anti-labor tradition. No union organization
efforts ever emerged out of the ACSC. The full significance of the orga-
nization lay in the way its ideology and activities reflected a broadly
accepted consensus view of citizenship. While ACSC members clearly
felt aggrieved with the widespread racism in Victoria, their anger was not
focused on fundamental social structures or institutions. From the per-
spective of Victoria's Mexican American community, it was local individ-
uals or broader cultural practices and values that had betrayed the con-
cepts of egalitarianism that formed the basis of American society.1" But
the basic ideological structure of American society was seen as desirable.
So too were what the organization identified as basic American values-
egalitarianism, capitalism, representative democracy, and the two-party
system of politics. Desires for change were channeled through the ballot
box. The idea that capitalism, democracy, or the republic itself should
ever be challenged was never seriously articulated. Confrontations were
generally held quietly in business or city offices, not in the streets or
even on the shop floor. From its inception the ACSC was a predomi-
nantly working-class organization that sought to bring about social and
political change in subtle, discrete ways.
" Constitution of the American Citizens' Social Club (copy in author's possession); Matt Lopez
to Anthony Quiroz, Feb. 5, 1995, interview (tapes in author's possession); Carlos Solis to Anthony
Quiroz, May 1, 1996, interview (tapes m author's possession). Documents and tapes currently in
the author's possession will be donated to the Special Collections and Archives of Bell Library,
Texas A&M-Corpus Chnsti, upon the completion of a book-length project by the author.
14 For an extended discussion of the historical role of mutualzstas see Jose Amaro Hernandez,
Mutual Aid for Survzval- The Case of the Mexzcan American (Malabar, Fla.: Robert E. Malabar
Publishing Company, 1983); Rodolfo Acufia, Occupied Amenca; and Susan E. Keefe and Amado
M. Padilla, Chicano Ethnicity (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987).
" Lopez to Quiroz, Feb. 5, 1995, interview; Solis to Quiroz, May 1, 1996, interview. Lopez was
a member of the ACSC through three decades. He was part of the new guard that split with the
old guard in 1974. Solis was a charter member of the organization and was a leader of the old
guard that opposed Lopez and his supporters. Despite ideological and personal differences
among members of the group, however, interviews bore out the fact that the cross-class consen-
sual ideology that I argue was prevalent in Victoria among Mexican Americans, was deeply
grained m the opposing factions of the ACSC.

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.