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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

internally stable and ideologically cohesive, had been quietly operating
in Victoria for almost a decade.
The de Le6n club, named after Victoria's founding father, Martin de
Le6n, was organized in Victoria in June 1967. The local newspaper orig-
inally described it as a "new service club composed of business and pro-
fessional men.""' Just as with the ACSC, the de Le6n club's name held
deep symbolic significance for its membership. The very name de Le6n
drew upon a widely accepted memory of de Le6n as aristocratic,
Spanish, and elite, and thereby was respectable and acceptable. Even the
more repressive, discriminatory aspects of Victoria's Anglo community
at times expressed admiration for de Le6n, who had been favorably cast
in the public memory as Castillian rather than Mexican. Thus, from its
inception the de Le6n club saw itself as representative of the more edu-
cated, elite elements of Victoria's Mexican American community.
Indeed, there was room enough in the racial ideology that shaped social
relations and relationships in Victoria for a certain "acceptable," "clean"
Mexican American image.52 Upwardly mobile, self-aware, and assertive,
Victoria's professional class, through the de Le6n club, held values simi-
lar to working-class Mexican American organizations in the city with one
major difference. While other organizations sought to increase access to
professional class status for children of the working class, the de Le6n
club became a vehicle through which Victoria's Mexican American pro-
fessional class sought to recreate itself. Two closely related aspects of the
de Le6n club's activities point toward this middle-class sensibility: col-
lege scholarships and the functions that funded them.55
At its inception the de Le6n club established a college scholarship
fund that was funded primarily through two annual dances, one during
the summer and one during the Christmas season. Records of these
events are scarce, but by 1973 the club was raising a minimum of
$1,6oo from its Christmas dance alone. As with the scholarship efforts
of the ACSC and other organizations, the de Le6n club also helped
contribute to a growing professional class within Victoria's Mexican
American community.
The dances shed light on the elitist nature of the de Le6n club.
Traditionally, the Mexican American middle class, not just in Victoria,
51 Vctona Advocate, June 6, 1967.
52 David Montejano, Anglos and Mexzcans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986 (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1987), 243-244; Arnoldo De Le6n, They Called Them Greasers: Anglo
American Attitudes Toward Tejanos (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983). For a celebratory
and sympathetic account of Martin de Le6n's life that focuses on the image of the city's
founder as a Castilhan elite see A. B. J. Hammett, The Empresano: Don Martin de Le6n (Waco:
Texian Press, 1973).
5" Victona Advocate, Dec. 2, 1967.

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 September 23, 2014.