No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed

[ Latino/a Studies ]

No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed

The Rise of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement

By Cynthia E. Orozco

The first fully comprehensive study of the origins of the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) and its precursors, incorporating race, class, gender, and citizenship to create bold new understandings of a pivotal period of activism.

2009

$24.95$16.72

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Paperback

6 x 9 | 330 pp. | 25 b&w photos, 2 maps

ISBN: 978-0-292-72132-6

Founded by Mexican American men in 1929, the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) has usually been judged according to Chicano nationalist standards of the late 1960s and 1970s. Drawing on extensive archival research, including the personal papers of Alonso S. Perales and Adela Sloss-Vento, No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed presents the history of LULAC in a new light, restoring its early twentieth-century context.

Cynthia Orozco also provides evidence that perceptions of LULAC as a petite bourgeoisie, assimilationist, conservative, anti-Mexican, anti-working class organization belie the realities of the group's early activism. Supplemented by oral history, this sweeping study probes LULAC's predecessors, such as the Order Sons of America, blending historiography and cultural studies. Against a backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, World War I, gender discrimination, and racial segregation, No Mexicans, Women, or Dogs Allowed recasts LULAC at the forefront of civil rights movements in America.

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Part One: Society and Ideology
    • 1. The Mexican Colony of South Texas
    • 2. Ideological Origins of the Movement
  • Part Two: Politics
    • 3. Rise of a Movement
    • 4. Founding Fathers
    • 5. The Harlingen Convention of 1927: No Mexicans Allowed
    • 6. LULAC's Founding
  • Part Three: Theory and Methodology
    • 7. The Mexican American Civil Rights Movement
    • 8. No Women Allowed?
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

LULAC, I Salute You

Friends, I'd like to tell you
What happened in Corpus
Some men got together
And formed LULAC
They were few in numbers
But they had a lot of courage.
They were tired of seeing their people
Suffer such pain.
Garza and his friends
Men of devotion.
But in their hearts
They felt a revolution.

Eusebio "Chevo" Morales, LULAC member, 1987

The League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) is the oldest Mexican American civil rights organization in the United States and celebrated its eightieth anniversary in 2009. With several thousand members today, it is one of the largest Latino voluntary associations. Mexican American men founded LULAC on February 17, l929, in Corpus Christi, Texas, when the Corpus Christi chapter of the Order Sons of America (OSA), the Order Knights of America (OKA) of San Antonio, and the League of Latin American Citizens (LLAC) of South Texas united. (Mexican American women could not join until 1933.) The oldest, largest, and most important of these groups was the OSA, founded in San Antonio in 1921. It had seven chapters in South Texas by 1929.

LULAC's original purpose was to "develop within the members of our race the best, purest, and most perfect type of a true and loyal citizen of the United States" and to "eradicate from our body politic all intents and tendencies to establish discrimination among our fellow-citizens on account of race, religion or social position as being contrary to the true spirit of Democracy, our Constitution and Laws." These goals, anticipated earlier in the founding of the OSA, ushered in a new political era among Mexican-origin people in the United States.

Both the OSA and LULAC reflected the aspirations of a nascent Mexican American male middle class committed to combating racism as an obstacle to community empowerment. Unlike other Mexican-descent organizations in the 1920s, the OSA and LULAC found inspiration in the United States more than in Mexico. Their members were among the first to assert a Mexican American identity and claim their U.S. citizenship by arguing that they possessed the rights accorded them by the U.S. Constitution. At the same time they believed their U.S. citizenship obligated them to serve their nation, the United States. This U.S. patriotism prompted Chicano movement scholars of the 1970s to refer to the OSA and LULAC as examples of the "politics of accommodation" or "adaptation."

Unlike most organizations in the Mexican-descent community at the time, the OSA and LULAC emphasized U.S. citizenship. In 1927 at a convention in Harlingen, Texas, Mexican immigrants—the conference majority—walked out of the meeting when it was argued that only U.S. citizens could join the association. Mexican Americans there—U.S. citizens—went on to found LLAC and two years later founded LULAC.

In this study I place the rise of the OSA and LULAC organizations within their proper historical context, the Mexican American civil rights movement in Texas. I stress context because most scholars who have written about the league were Chicano movement activists and have judged LULAC by Chicano movement or Chicano nationalist standards of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Until only recently, many historians expected LULAC to mirror the Chicano movement organizations of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They failed to address LULAC within the context of the 1920s.

These historians abhorred what they thought the league represented—middle-class interests, assimilation, and political accommodation. Instead, they focused on the working class, the maintenance of "Mexican culture," and resistance to exploitation and political domination. It is now clear that the Chicano movement idealized, romanticized, and essentialized La Raza and the working class. Scholars expressed limited, static, and historical notions of "Mexican culture" and did not fully comprehend the meaning or spectrum of resistance to racism. Consequently, until recently LULAC has been demonized by most scholars and activists.

Chicano scholars were especially critical of the identity that they believed LULAC members chose. The Chicano movement rejected the identity of "Mexican American" and "American" and criticized LULAC for embracing these identities. Likewise, those who self-identified as "Chicano" idealized the identity of "Mexican" and romanticized the indigenous, especially the Aztec. Chicanos were also critical of LULAC's adoption of English as its official language in its first constitution.

Chicano political scientists began to write about LULAC in the 1970s. Armando Navarro described the league as "middle class Mexican Americans" who organized "petite-bourgeoisie patriotic service clubs dedicated to assimilation into the Anglo culture." Alfredo Cuellar wrote that the OSA and LULAC advocated the "politics of adaptation" and that "the politicization of Mexican Americans" did not occur until after World War II.

The 1980s witnessed a more benign treatment of LULAC. The decade produced a new political climate with significant gains made by the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, mainstream organizations like LULAC that pursued legal challenges and voting as means to improve the Latina/o condition. Their success prompted Chicano scholars to rethink their views of earlier civil rights organizations. LULAC President Rubén Bonilla's administrations of the late 1970s and 1980s also convinced LULAC critics that the association was capable of progressive social change. By 1989 political scientist Carlos Muñoz Jr. noted that LULAC had "re-surfaced as the leading national Mexican American political organization."

Yet, the Chicano nationalist interpretation lingered through the 1990s and continues even to this day. In 1985 Chicano movement activist and Raza Unida founder José Ángel Gutiérrez referred to "the LULAC example of assimilationist thought." Navarro continues to espouse this interpretation. Now, scholars in whiteness studies are misreading the league, rendering a neo-Chicano movement interpretation of LULAC.

Moving in the right direction is historian Craig A. Kaplowitz, who has been critical of Chicano movement interpretations of LULAC and has suggested that LULAC, along with the American GI Forum, proved to be at the forefront of Mexican American civil rights in Texas. He focuses on LULAC and its interface with national policy. While in his study Kaplowitz does an excellent job of addressing the league's ties to U.S. presidential politics and national policy, his concept of "national" is limited. LULAC's concept of La Raza as a nation as well as its multinational and transnational identities must also be understood. LULAC has recognized and imagined a Raza nation and acted accordingly.

A scholar who has changed his earlier views is political scientist Benjamín Márquez, the most important scholar of LULAC. While his LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican American Political Organization (1993) was influenced by the Chicano movement, in his more recent writings he has utilized new research on social movement theory and provided a more balanced treatment of the league. Here I give more attention to his older work because this interpretation continues to wield significant influence.

Theoretical Approaches

Histories of LULAC date back to 1930, starting with the work of political scientist Oliver Douglas Weeks. Following cursory studies of the league in the 1970s, new conceptual tools appeared after 1980. Scholars have applied the following conceptual tools: political generation, class and consciousness, incentive theory, and whiteness.

Weeks used ethnographic research to conduct his study. In 1929 the National Advisory Board of Social Sciences commissioned University of Texas professor Weeks to attend the founding convention and write "The League of United Latin-American Citizens: A Texas-Mexican Civic Organization." But he gave scant attention to civil rights struggles of South Texas associations that dated back to 1921 and preceded LULAC. Likewise, though he mentioned the Harlingen convention of 1927—the first attempt at unification by the various associations—he did not address what happened there or explain the event's significance. All research before 1980 relied on Weeks.

Mario T. García's 1989 Mexican Americans: Leadership, Ideology, and Identity was the first study of LULAC by a professional historian and the first to apply the political generation model. He defined a "political generation" as "a group of human beings who have undergone the same basic historical experiences during their formative years," and he considered 1930 to 1960 as one. He saw LULAC as the first organizational sign of the "Mexican American generation." But he ignored the 1910s and 1920s as part of his generational analysis and only briefly mentioned the emergence of the OSA and LULAC. Generational models can be useful, but the heterogeneity of the Raza community must be considered as well; immigrants and women did not fit into this model. Nor does it account for regional differences in the United States or the spectrum of political ideologies. Thus the model of a political generation can be complicated by citizenship, gender, region, and political ideology.

Using the concepts of class, culture, and consciousness in his intellectual history of San Antonio in the 1930s, historian Richard A. García offered a second framework to study LULAC. The Rise of the Mexican American Middle Class presents a nuanced portrait of the league, though García too recognized a "Mexican American generation of the 1930s." He saw 1929 as a turning point in the evolution of Mexican American politics and thus focused on the 1930s. He asked, "Why and how were the 1930s the period in which consciousness changed from Mexican to Mexican American?" But he ignored the 1920s.

One of Richard García's contributions was in making a distinction between the Mexican American middle class and the Mexican middle class. He showed that such identity formation is often relational. In other words, a Mexican American identity was created in relation to or as compared to a Mexican immigrant identity in Texas. He highlighted ideologues Alonso S. Perales and M. C. Gonzáles, with great attention to class, culture, and consciousness. García's approach can be applied to the 1920s.

Political scientist Benjamín Márquez applied a third framework—incentive theory—while still adhering to a Chicano movement interpretation. His LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican American Political Organization surveys league history from the 1920s to the 1990s. He argues that LULAC can be understood by looking at individual self-interest. This study is marred by an overarching incentive theory that historical evidence does not uphold.

Historian Neil Foley suggests a fourth conceptual tool, referring to "whiteness," to understand LULAC. Whiteness studies emerged in the 1990s. Foley argues that LULAC did not aspire to Mexicanness and that the league made a Faustian pact (a devil's deal with whites) to be included in the category of "white" as part of their political strategy. He concludes, "LULAC members had tried just about everything they could to prove how Americanized they were: they spoke English, voted, used the court systems, got elected to office, actively opposed Mexican immigration, and excluded Mexican citizens from membership in LULAC," mistakenly equating democratic ideals with European Americans. Foley contends that by "choosing the Caucasian option," Mexican Americans "forged White racial identities that were constructed on the backs of blacks." "Whiteness" has some usefulness in the study of LULAC, but focusing on "Americanness," "Mexican Americanness," and "Mexicanness" is more appropriate, especially in the 1920s. Moreover, it is important to study racial formation and identity formation by insiders and outsiders.

Limitations of Previous Studies

Previous studies have been flawed as they relate to class, identity, immigration, citizenship, social movements, biography, periodization, and methodology. First, scholars have called LULAC "middle class" but have rarely addressed its meaning. Class in the Mexican-descent community in the 1920s has been misunderstood. The middle class in the Mexican-origin community is not the same as the European American middle class. Scholar Mario Barrera has called this group a "colonized middle class," and I concur. Yet, this middle class was privileged as compared to the Mexican-origin working class. Moreover, there was a Mexican American middle class and a Mexican immigrant middle class.

Second, previous studies misrepresented the league's ethnic or national identity. Critics in early studies scoffed at LULAC because its members called it "Latin American," and critics assumed this was a play at whiteness rather than a pan-American identity. Early scholars placed uneven emphasis on the group's identification with the United States. Similarly, historian F. Arturo Rosales introduced another conceptual tool—shifting ethnic consciousness—but used it only to refer to a change from Mexicanness to Mexican Americanness. He did not see any other kinds of shifting consciousness. Moreover, consciousness or identity can be ethnic, national, transnational, multinational, or some mixture.

Not enough attention has been placed on the multiple, shifting, intersecting, and contradictory identities that LULAC has had. Early Chicano scholarship was inconsiderate of multiple identities. Today, Chicana/o cultural studies, a new field of inquiry since the late 1990s, suggests the need to understand various identity constructions. These multiple identities arise from changing historical circumstances and specific situations and contexts. These identities are created in relation to others and have even constituted political strategy. Moreover, identity, naming, and labeling are not necessarily permanent—they can be temporary, flexible, and negotiable.

Earlier studies made identity formation synonymous with the process of Mexican Americanization, which it is not. Historian George J. Sánchez' Becoming Mexican Americans focuses on the social and cultural aspects of becoming Mexican Americanized in Los Angeles in the 1930s. However, there was another, competing, and even more dominant identity in Los Angeles in the 1930s—a Mexican identity that Sánchez has ignored. Likewise, in Texas in the 1910s, 1920s, and 1930s, the competing identity of Mexicanness was especially strong. In addition to Mexican Americanization as identity formation as studied by Sánchez, I am interested in the politics of U.S. citizenship, a topic Sánchez has not addressed.

Third, social scientists have misunderstood the OSA and the league's relations with Mexican immigrants. They have seen the OSA and LULAC as exclusionary and almost anti-Mexican. Historian David Gregory Gutiérrez notes in Walls and Mirrors that the relationship between Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants across history has been ignored. He mentions the league's policies toward immigrants but does not explain how the Mexican immigrant middle class and Mexican immigrant working class indeed helped to define LULAC's politics. Mexican immigrants have historically been a group by which LULAC has defined itself.

Gutiérrez mentions the Harlingen convention of 1927, one of the first known clashes between Mexican Americans and Mexicans and a significant chapter in the history of LULAC, but he does not discuss it as a defining event, as I argue it was. LULAC's relations with immigrants are more complex than Gutiérrez suggests; LULAC's concepts of community, nation, and identity must be examined. Its strategy of Raza political empowerment was especially important.

A fourth limitation with previous studies involves citizenship, which many authors ignore but which has garnered more attention since the late 1990s. Ronald Beiner's Theorizing Citizenship points to its multiple meanings. I use it here to mean both a legal or official status designed by nation-states and to designate desirable "civic" behavior or agency. But I will call citizenship as legal status "national citizenship" and citizenship as desirable civic behavior "social citizenship." Recently, "cultural citizenship" and "regional citizenship" have been introduced as further ways to fully understand immigrants' lives, practices, activism, and participation in the United States. South African feminists have called for the "(un)thinking" of citizenship. However, these ideals did not apply in the 1920s. Both national and social citizenship have been intertwined with race, class, and gender and help explain Mexican American civic activism as exhibited by the OSA and LULAC.

Fifth, previous studies have not considered using social movement theory to study the league and have not conceptualized the "Mexican American civil rights movement." Chicano historiography is finally acknowledging this concept, though most still believe it emerged after World War II despite numerous historians having documented LULAC's civil rights struggles in the 1930s. In 1987 historian and sociologist David Montejano stated that although La Raza initiated civil rights "struggles" in Texas in the 1910s and 1920s, a civil rights movement did not come to fruition there until after 1945. Thus, the OSA and LULAC have been excluded as organizations in the Mexican American civil rights movement. With the exception of Julie Leininger Pycior's research on the San Antonio OSA council, the significant activity of the OSA in the 1920s has heretofore gone undocumented.

Historians of the twentieth-century Chicano experience have examined many aspects of the Mexican American civil rights movement. The four-hour documentary Chicano!: The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement introduced the phrase "Mexican American civil rights movement" to the general public. Historian F. Arturo Rosales' book accompanying the series did not discuss the concept of the Mexican American civil rights movement, though he used it in his title.

Sixth, previous OSA and LULAC studies have not considered genders. Most Mexican American civil rights studies have not gendered men and have excluded women. Since the 1990s women have constituted half if not more of LULAC membership. And while Chicano scholars have typically been critical of LULAC, they have yet to criticize men's privileged place in it or women's subordination within the league. Sources on women are plentiful but have simply been ignored or have not been seen through a gendered lens. Women's places in the organizations and movement have yet to be understood.

Masculinities, genders, and homosocialities have been ignored in most studies of Chicano political associations. Homosociality is defined by historian Carroll Smith-Rosenberg as social relations among members of the same gender. Homosociality among Chicanas has received much attention but not among Chicano men. The field of men's studies arose in the 1980s, but the study of gendered Chicano men is now emerging.

I am especially interested in the role fraternity, brotherhood, and manhood played in organizing the OSA and LULAC. Historians have assumed that because men founded LULAC, gender as a tool of analysis is of use only when women became members in 1933. Men in the OSA and LULAC, however, lived gendered lives and had various gender ideologies about men's and women's political participation.

A seventh limitation involves periodization. My study focuses on the period 1910-1930, and I argue that the events and historical processes of this era are crucial in understanding the OSA and LULAC. Scholars have referred to the "Mexican American mind," a "Mexican American generation," and the "rise of the Mexican American middle class" as phenomena of the 1930s, pointing to the founding of LULAC in 1929 as evidence.

However, it is the 1910s and 1920s that explain the emergence of the OSA in 1921 and LULAC in 1929. The ideological currents of the 1910s and 1920s require attention, as do the experiences of OSA and LULAC founders and members. These currents emanated from Mexico, Texas, and the United States and influenced OSA and LULAC activists. Moreover, I will examine World War I's impact on the emerging civil rights movement. The Progressive Era, with its emphasis on reform, order, and assimilation, and the 1920s, which gave rise to greater class inequities, also serve as the broader context. The recent research of Mae M. Ngai on the making of "illegal aliens" in the 1920s sheds light as well on the transformation of racial identities and citizenship in that decade.

An eighth limitation involves methodology. Many studies chronicle organizational activities and significant events but pay scant attention to organizational ideology and structure over time. In addition, studies have made little use of membership lists, constitutions, or minutes to carefully assess who joined or even to assess the associations' politics over time. Early studies gave only brief attention to historical actors, usually focusing on one or two male leaders while ignoring rank-and-file members and women. In this study I focus on a wide range of leadership, I touch on membership, and I address nonmembers—many who were women.

Finally, my book differs from previous accounts that have simply defined the OSA and LULAC as accommodationist. I place both organizations within the context of the 1920s and consequently within the framework of resistance to European American domination. More often than not, academics have focused on the internalized racism of OSA and LULAC members; I chose instead to look at their hybridity and resistance. They operated within the context of a new era, new politics, new identities, new nationalisms, and new gender relations—in short, as Mexican American middle-class men resisting European American domination. Thus, the study of the OSA and LULAC requires a reconsideration of class, culture, consciousness, ethnicity, immigration, nation, citizenship, social movements, genders, and periodization.

What's in a Name

The question of identity is crucial to this study, and readers must understand the politics of naming before proceeding. Identities, both by insiders and outsiders, are important. In this study I pay attention to how outsiders (non-Raza) named the Mexican-origin community through racial formation and racialization. Likewise, I pay attention to how insiders (La Raza) named themselves and defined themselves through self-identity, class formation, community formation, nationalism, and citizenship.

Two concepts are critical in understanding racial identity—racial formation and racialization. Scholars Michael Omi and Howard Winant define "racial formation" as the "process by which social, economic, and political forces determine the content and importance of racial categories, and by which they are in turn shaped by racial meanings." In the 1920s "whites," "Mexicans," "Mexican Americans," "México Texanos," "Americans," and "La Raza" were common identities. The 1920s brought a new era in how Mexican-origin people were being imagined, defined, and constructed both by whites and on their own. In this study I will explain how the meaning of "Mexican" changed from the 1910s to the 1920s and will address how a Mexican race was constructed. I will also explain how "Mexican" became synonymous with "immigrant."

Racialization is "the extension of racial meaning to a previously racially unclassified relationship, social practice, or group." Understanding "Mexican" as a racialized imaginary is key to this study. As the "Mexican race" and "Mexicans" were being defined in a different way, a new paradigm—"the Mexican problem"—emerged as a means European Americans created to racialize and subordinate La Raza. The OSA and LULAC were a response to "the Mexican problem." Hereafter in this study when I employ the term "Mexican" in quotes, I do so to denote racialization—racist and essentialized European American perceptions of La Raza.

The labeling of La Raza as a homogeneous Mexican problem was synonymous with European Americans' appropriation of Americanness for themselves. While the early 1910s saw the dominant society defining "American" in a typically WASP way, the Americanization movement of the late 1910s formalized this effort. Yet around the same time, World War I raised new questions and possibilities associated with Americanness. How would La Raza define itself during the war? Would its constituents claim their Americanness as American citizens? Would they claim their future with the United States if they were Mexican immigrants living in the United States? And would white Americans accept Raza veterans as equals? So in this study I seek to understand how La Raza was defined by outsiders as "other," "other than American," and "un-American."

I further seek to understand and explain self-identity and community formation. Self-reference and identity are both historically specific, reflecting a particular time in history. Variables of citizenship, class, birthplace, residence, language use, education, and color have influenced ethnic, racial, and national identity. Social, cultural, political, and ideological differences continue to exist within the Mexican-origin community. Class, citizenship, and gender have had their effects as well on identity within the Raza community.

Self-referents among La Raza in the 1920s included "México Texano" as used in Spanish. If translated—which was rare—it was translated among La Raza as "Mexican Texan," not "Texas Mexican." Members of this group were typically born in the United States, and/or their life experience was largely within Texas. México Texanos were U.S. citizens who identified with Texas as a state, with a regional culture, and with the United States. "México Texano" accurately reflected the cultural milieu in which OSA and LULAC members lived. They operated in Mexican, México Texano, and European American worlds. "México Texano" preceded the term "Mexican American" and seems to have been in vogue between the 1880s and 1920s. It represented the hybridity of many in La Raza who lived in Texas—part Mexican, part Texan.

The term "Mexican American" was barely emerging in the 1920s and would not become common until the 1960s. It will be used here as synonymous with "México Texano." Still, the emergence of "Mexican American" represents a shift from a Spanish to an English cultural milieu and a shift by México Texanos from a regional identity to a national identity as well as the hybridity of La Raza.

"La Raza" was another popular self-referent in the 1920s. Its use here is not my attempt at pan-Latino or pan-American nationalism. Nor is it biological determinism. Rather, it reflects usage by the people being studied who identified a community based on race, nationality, and multinationalism or transnationalism. Historian Elliot Young argues that there was an "artificial unity" around the term, but I am interested in how La Raza used it to constitute a community and nation, whether imagined or real.

While acknowledging the multiplicity and impermanence of identities, I use specific terms in specific ways herein. I reject the labeling of the entire community as "Mexican" or "Mexican American." I use "Mexican-origin" and "Mexican-descent" to denote a common group distinct from European Americans. I will use "European American" as synonymous with "white" and "American." "Mexican" without quote marks will designate those born in Mexico whose life experience was largely there and who were citizens there, while, as mentioned earlier, "Mexican" in quotes will designate the racialized imaginary. "México Texano" is a self-referent by Texans of Mexican descent, and "La Raza" is a self-referent used here both by Mexican Americans and Mexicans.

Book Organization

The book is divided into three parts. Part One addresses the historical context giving rise to the OSA and LULAC. Chapter 1 explores La Raza's social, economic, and political status from 1910 to 1930. I examine South Texas as a distinct region, economy, and society in the diverse settings of urban San Antonio, semi-urban Corpus Christi, rural Alice, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The OSA and LULAC emerged during the region's transformation from a rural ranching and farming society to a modern urban society based on agribusiness. Urbanization, immigration, and education gave rise to the México Texano male middle class as part of changing class formation. This new class arose in the context of racial segregation and the racialization of "Mexicans" as "the Mexican problem." The lack of an independent female Mexican American middle class will also be addressed.

In Chapter 2 I analyze the social and ideological origins of the OSA and LULAC by focusing on significant events and ideological currents in the 1910s and 1920s. A shift emerged then in ethnic and national identity or consciousness from México Texano to Mexican American. This change was evident in ideological currents emanating from the Mexican Revolution, the Plan de San Diego, World War I, Progressivism, the Americanization movement, Mexican immigration, federal immigration policies, and "the Mexican problem." New policies and practices of national and social citizenship arose. These events and currents in the United States, Texas, and Mexico influenced the thinking of the emerging male middle class.

Part Two addresses movement leaders and organizers, their activities in the 1920s, the significant events of the Harlingen convention of 1927, and the founding of LULAC in 1929. The emergence of the OSA and the Mexican American civil rights movement is the subject of Chapter 3, in which I discuss how La Raza strategized its resistance against racial oppression. Politics by Mexicans and Mexican Americans are described. I address the role the Mexican consulate in the political empowerment and disempowerment of La Raza, and I document significant civil rights activism by the OSA and others in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, and Alice throughout the 1920s. I consider class, gender, and citizenship in organizational life.

Chapter 4 provides the first collective biography of the LULAC leadership. In LULAC circles, several of these men are considered founders or founding fathers. But LULAC identified only a few founders, and most are unknown to academics and the general public. I profile the lives of eleven men, with attention to how class and race shaped them and examine what each thought about women's participation in politics. It would be essentialist and inaccurate to simply characterize these men as patriarchal or macho. Attitudes toward Mexican immigrants or Mexican immigration are also considered.

The Harlingen convention of 1927, at which México Texanos excluded Mexicans from their organization, is discussed in Chapter 5. The convention spotlighted conflict between México Texanos and Mexicans over the issues of citizenship, nationhood, identity, and political empowerment. In the chapter I examine México Texano ideologies of citizenship and why and how they believed their political destiny differed from that of Mexicans. I explore the Mexican consulate's relationship to México Texanos and discern differences between Mexicans and México Texanos. How México Texanos defined community and nation is addressed, as is the hybridity of México Texanos, since they fought narrowly defined categories and communities of "American" and "Mexican." I address the issue of citizenship: Was the exclusion of immigrants from what would become LULAC the best strategy for the political empowerment of La Raza? Was women's exclusion the best strategy?

In Chapter 6 I chronicle the founding of LULAC and examine why LULAC and not the OSA became the premiere organization. How Mexicans, México Texanos, and European Americans received LULAC's formation is addressed. I compare the 1922 OSA constitution and the 1929 LULAC constitution to measure shifts in ethnic, national, and class identities from the 1910s to 1929. This is the first study of the 1922 OSA constitution and the most detailed analysis of the 1929 constitution.

Part Three concerns theory and methodology, particularly in relation to social movements and gender. Chapter 7 touches on social movement theory. I discuss Márquez' early work and provide an alternative framework in understanding the LULAC organization and members' incentives to join. I assess the usefulness of social movement theory as applied to 1920s Mexican American civil rights activism.

In Chapter 8 I raise questions about methodology in the study of women in OSA and LULAC politics. I question the analytical categories social scientists have used to describe women's supposed exclusion. I ask how we define "political," "activist," "auxiliary," "leader," and "women citizen." Women's marital status, motherhood and its impact on organizational politics, public activism, and social movements are addressed. I address Raza women's empowerment through ladies auxiliaries and Ladies LULAC chapters. I analyze gender as an organizing principle by women and ask whether difference, segregation, or feminist strategy on the part of women explains this separatism.

Finally, I assess how women constructed themselves in their autobiographical narratives and history. How did they define community, citizen, and nation? Focus is placed on Adela Sloss, Adelaida Garza, and Carolina De Luna. The biographies and autobiographical narratives of two other women—Emma Tenayuca and Maria L. de Hernández—raise additional questions about Raza empowerment and whether LULAC chose the best path for the political empowerment of La Raza and women.

By Cynthia E. Orozco

Cynthia E. Orozco chairs the History and Humanities Department at Eastern New Mexico University in Ruidoso, where she teaches U.S. history, Western civilization, and world humanities. An editor of Mexican Americans in Texas History and associate editor of Latinas in the United States, an Historical Encyclopedia, she is also a small businesswoman, served as campaign manager of the Leo Martinez congressional race in New Mexico, was appointed by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to the New Mexico Humanities Council, and was president of LULAC in Ruidoso.

“Cynthia E. Orozco has written a superb history of LULAC . . . [that] represents a masterful history of the lesser-known, but no less important, civil rights movement in U.S. history.”

Journal of Southern History

“. . . one of the most important books on Mexican American civil rights that has ever been produced. . . . the most detailed history of the beginning of this premiere Mexican American organization in the 1920s. . . . [with] fresh, often critical, commentary about previous interpretations.”

Western Historical Quarterly

“. . . a masterful job with a most difficult subject matter. I am amazed at the historical records, documents, and oral histories compiled.”

—Ruben Bonilla, past national president of LULAC, 1979–1981

"Cynthia E. Orozco forces us to reconsider both the periodization and our fundamental understanding of Mexican American Political and social activism."

American Historical Review