The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 51

Class and Consensus

but throughout the state, sought to develop its own identity apart from
the working class. One central aspect of this process of differentiation
was the kind of music preferred by the middle class. While traditional
conjunto music that centers on the accordion was considered the
province of the working class, middle-class Mexican Americans devel-
oped a preference for orchestral music. This taste for orchestral music
was reflected in the bands that were contracted to play for the annual
benefit dances. Bands that performed at de Le6n club dances included
Eddie Galvan and his Orchestra, the Noe Pro Orchestra, and the Paul
Elizondo Orchestra.4 The orchestras that played at the de Le6n club
dances played primarily Mexican and Spanish orchestral music, which
reflected the fact that members of the de Le6n club, while clearly con-
scious of their middle-class status, were also deeply rooted in their
Mexican past. In contrast to the ACSC, the de Le6n club's constitution
was written in English. Yet the club members also maintained a pride in
Mexican culture and continued to speak Spanish and to promote
Mexican and Spanish cultural events. Another club activity provides evi-
dence of the organization's pride in its Mexican past, dedication to edu-
cation, and professionally trained leadership.
Since 1987 the club has maintained an association with the University
of Houston-Victoria. The two institutions jointly sponsor the annual de
Le6n Symposium, a lecture series dedicated to Mexican American histo-
ry and culture. This symposium has served as a vehicle for creating pub-
lic awareness of the contributions of Mexican Americans to American
society and culture.55 Just as importantly, the symposium series has also
served as an expression of the Mexican American community's dedica-
tion to education. The link between UHV and the Mexican American
community through the de Le6n club and the symposium has helped
promote a positive image of both higher education and the local branch
campus of the University of Houston. Further, since the group consid-
ered itself the educated elite, de Le6n club's partnership with UHV was
a logical development.
Much as did LULAC Council 626 before them, the de Le6n club
members sought the same sense of acceptance and respectability
through the promotion of a professional public image of Mexican
Americans and through a dedication to community service that extend-
ed beyond the boundaries of the Mexican American community. In the
54 Vwctona Advocate, June so, 1969; Nov. 25, 1978; photo with caption, Victona Advocate, Nov.
23, 1980. For a discussion of the role of conjunto music as an element of class distinctions see
Manuel H. Pefia, The Texas-Mexican Conjunto: Hzstory of Working-Class Muswc (Austin: University of
Texas Press, 1985).
"5 Victona Advocate, Mar. 21, 1989; Apr. 15, 1990.


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