LULAC: All for One, One for All
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was formed on February 17th, 1920 in Corpus Christi, Texas. This Hispanic Organization is one of the oldest and largest organization within the United States (US). Hispanic veterans of World War I established this organization in order to fight against ethnic discrimination of Latinos in the US. “The goal of LULAC is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, the political influence, housing, health, and civil rights of Hispanic people who are United States citizens.”*
The main ideology of this group was to have individuals assimilate to the dominant culture of the US which was European-American culture. The reason being that by assimilating, people would not face discrimination which they believed stemmed from racism. They assumed that by working hard and assimilating into American culture, Mexican Americans could improve their socio-economic standing and treatment within the US.***
Members of LULAC rejected ties with Mexico in order to prove their alliance to the US. For this reason, only US citizens of Mexican descent were allowed to join.** Their constitution mirrored that of the US constitution and they used English as their official language. Immigrants had closer ties with Mexico and spoke Spanish and therefore were not fit to be members of LULAC.**** Being forced to assimilate can be detrimental to the culture and identity of individuals. As it has been seen throughout history, many minority communities have been stripped away of their culture. Languages have been lost, traditions, diversity, identity all to conform to the dominant culture of the US. Organizations like LULAC were created to help communities combat discrimination and receive assistance in different areas, however, it came with a price: loss of our own culture.
In Del Rio ISD v. Salvatierra, LULAC sued Del Rio Independent School District for segregating Mexican Americans in schools because of their race in 1930. The court did not rule in their favor and desegregation did not occur until later on but this case marked an important path for future cases to come.
In later decades, LULAC members began turning away from the assimilation ideologies and participated in protests and demanded funds and grants from the government.*** They fought for the desegregation of schools and support of Mexican Americans. As of today, membership and funds have decreased significantly with the rise of other organizations and LULAC’s failure to accommodate the needs of Mexican Americans.**** However, LULAC still remains to be one of the oldest and largest organizations to have existed in the US.
* Estrada, Josue. "LULAC and American GI Forum: History and Geography 1929-1974". Mapping American Social Movements.
**Gutiérrez, David Gregory. Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity. University of California Press, 1995, ISBN 9780520202191.
***"LULAC History - All for One and One for All". League of United Latin American Citizens.
****Márquez, Benjamin. Constructing Identities in Mexican-American Political Organizations: Choosing Issues, Taking Sides. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0-292-75277-1.