Class and Consensus
the AGIF primarily a civil rights organization.4 The AGIF's goal was
never to challenge the basic foundations of American society. Rather,
like other Mexican American organizations in the second half of the
twentieth century, it challenged the status quo by criticizing the ways in
which daily experience betrayed the promise of equality embraced in
the popular consciousness and by broadening the definition of
"American" to mean "Mexican American." Neither AGIF members nor
ACSC members surrendered their culture. Acceptance of some aspects
of mainstream popular culture did not mean the surrender of their
One manifestation of the development of a bi-cultural identity can be
found in their second annual fund-raising dance. A ten-piece orchestra
from Houston provided the music for a dance contest, which featured
competition in the Mambo and Tacuachito as well as the Be-Bop.86
Forum members, then, had developed a bicultural identity that celebrat-
ed and embraced both Mexican and American cultural forms. This
acceptance of an American identity found expression beyond the con-
fines of Forum functions and extended into the community. Indeed,
AGIF members felt so much a part of the nation that they worked to wel-
come new citizens. In 1957 and 1958 the Victoria AGIF sponsored citi-
zenship classes for individuals seeking naturalization. Their first class
included not only several Mexican citizens, but also a war bride from
Germany and another from Japan."6 For Victoria Forum members, citi-
zenship meant patriotism, as well as voluntarism to help the needy, pro-
mote higher education, and naturalize new citizens. After the 1950os the
AGIF turned primarily to fund-raising activities for scholarships and
community voluntarism. Its membership consciously avoided political
action. Meanwhile, a separate segment of the Mexican American com-
munity had also turned to an outside national organization.
Victoria's LULAC chapter, Council 626, was formed in the mid-197os
and was, in contrast to LULAC nationally, composed primarily of work-
ing-class members who shared the organization's vision of the creation
of an integrated, racially cooperative society. In this spirit Council 626
acted on issues that went beyond the confines of race or ethnicity.
Council members sought to take part in mainstream life and focused on
problems outside the immediate concern of the Mexican American
44 "The American G.I. Forum First Annual Convention Program," 1949 (copy in author's pos-
session); Hector P. Garcia to Mr Gerald Saldafia, Mar. 13, 1954, letter, folder 141.13, Hector P.
Garcia Collection. For more on the origins of the AGIF see Allsup, The Amencan G.I. Forum.
S" Vzctona Advocate, June 9, 1956. For a more extended discussion of the development of bi-cul-
tural identities in South Texas see Garcia, Desert Immigrants.
S" Vzctona Advocate, Oct. 18, 1957; Oct. 27, 1957; Mar. 5, 1958.
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 March 30, 2015.