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

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

197os the club began a pattern of philanthropy that targeted the needs
of such organizations as the Boys' Club, the public library, the local
Catholic high school, and the city's parks department.56 By the early
198os the club had grown in size and influence. In 1982, for example,
the club donated more than $34,000 to causes apart from its scholarship
program."7 Thus, the working-class LULAC councils, ACSC, American
G.I. Forum, and the professional-class de Le6n club sought public
respectability by proving a sense of responsibility to the larger communi-
ty. This behavior could be considered evidence of accommodation or
assimilation. But it seems that there is another way of explaining these
actions. Both organizations saw themselves as equal American citizens.
Both are examples of conscious choices made by Mexican Americans in
an attempt to carve out a niche of equality for themselves in a hostile
environment. Neither organization intended to assimilate or surrender
its traditions and culture, but each did intend to claim full access to
both the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
The activities of the de Le6n club reflected one aspect of the sense of
identity that had formed among Victoria's Mexican American profes-
sional class. Similar to middle-class organizations around the state and
the nation, the de Le6n club's members sought to promote their own
identity as American citizens. While, on the one hand, the club clung to
its past and its culture, it also embraced a vision of its place in society
that, on the other hand, involved greater levels of interaction with Anglo
American society. Similar to LULAC on the national level, the de Le6n
club sought an integrationist approach to citizenship and never ques-
tioned the basic political or economic foundations of society. Rather,
they were interested in gradual reform of social problems, primarily
through self-help, as with college funding, and through reaching out to
the wider community in attempts to gain respectability for the Mexican
American community.
When comparing and contrasting working- and middle-class organiza-
tions in post-World War II Victoria, it becomes rapidly apparent that
both types of organizations shared a similar goal-to raise money for col-
lege scholarships in order to swell the ranks of the Mexican American
professional class. These goals were not shared by accident. In both cases
they stem from a similar worldview and similar understandings of citizen-
ship. It is more important to attempt to understand such a consensual
outlook, not as accommodation or false consciousness, but as a con-
scious, informed choice on the part of Victoria's Mexican Americans. It is
'G Vctona Advocate,July 2, 197o; Feb. 21, 1974; Sept. 8, 1974; Mar. 27, 1975.
57 VctoriaAdvocate, Nov. 24, 1982.

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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 July 25, 2014.