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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

American community placed on the attainment of economic success
and attendant professional class status. Forum members in Victoria
believed that increasing Mexican Americans' access to higher education
would help bring about a more equitable society by developing a cadre
of Mexican American professionals who could make significant contri-
butions to the larger community, thereby garnering a more respectable
space in society for all Mexican Americans. This goal of increasing the
Mexican American presence in the local professional class was one that
was shared by all of Victoria's Mexican American organizations. It is
important to realize that the AGIF in Victoria was comprised primarily
of working-class members. Hence the actions of Victoria's AGIF did not
represent middle-class desires to reproduce itself, but manifested
instead a working-class desire to swell the ranks of the professional class
and promote enhanced access to upward socio-economic mobility.
To that end, the local AGIF and the ACSC engaged in what might be
considered traditional middle-class civic service activities. The Ladies
Auxiliary, for example, acquired donations from local businesses and
sponsored events such as a "turkey shoot," benefit dances, talent shows,
and special motion picture showings to raise money for local needy chil-
dren. These funds were used to buy such items as clothing and school
supplies for underprivileged children and their families.33 These actions
reflect a rather homogeneous understanding of how best to serve the
needs of Victoria's predominantly Mexican American and African
American poor. By helping provide basic necessities, promoting educa-
tion, encouraging good citizenship, and political participation, the AGIF
sought to ease short-term suffering and provide long-term hope through
the political system rather than address class or shop floor concerns.
While the Forum may have been perceived as a radical threat by those
who sought to maintain a segregated, unequal society, the fact of the
matter was that, from the very beginning, the Forum was dedicated to
support the dominant values of American society, its political system and
economic structures. Dr. Hector P. Garcia made explicit the notion that
his organization was dedicated to working within the existing political
and economic systems to bring about evolutionary change. By engaging
in activities such as "pay-your-poll tax campaigns" and "back to school
drives," the AGIF promoted civic mindedness and a sense of ownership
in American society. In the process, the AGIF shunned the idea of mili-
tance and downplayed its role as a defender of an oppressed group.
Indeed, Garcia himself acknowledged a distaste for the phrase "civil
rights" and for the growing tendency in the 1950s of people to consider

S" Victona Advocate, Dec. 3, 1955; Dec. 18, 1955; Dec. 24, 1955.

July

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 October 2, 2014.