On January 30, 2018, Houston’s LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse was named a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historical Preservation—a privately-funded nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving historically-significant locations. Originally built in 1907, this modest two-story building became the headquarters for Houston’s chapter of the civil rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).
LULAC was founded in 1929 as response to the discrimination faced by people of Mexican descent living in the United States.
At this time, people of Mexican descent were denied civil rights: they were often refused service and jobs; children attended segregated schools; public spaces were segregated according to “Jaime Crow” practices; and they were often targets of racially-motivated violence.
In an effort to create a stronger, unified organization, delegates from three major Texas Mexican American civil rights groups met to discuss a merger. These three groups included: the Order of the Sons of America, The Knights of America, and the League of Latin American Citizens. The members who worked to facilitate this merger included: Ben Garza, Juan Solis, Mauro Machado, Alonso S. Perales, J.T. Canales, E.N. Marin, A. DeLuna, and Fortunio Treviño (LULAC: History). On February 17, 1929, the merger was complete and the first LULAC Convention was held on May 19, 1929 (LULAC: History).
Since the merger until present day, LULAC has been fighting to empower Latinas and Latinos in theUnited States by creating access to political processes and equal opportunity to education. LULAC holds “voter registration drives, citizenship awareness sessions, sponsor health fairs and tutorial programs, and raise scholarship money for the LULAC National Scholarship Fund. This fund, in conjunction with LNESC (LULAC National Educational Service Centers), has assisted almost 10 percent of the 1.1 million Hispanic students who have gone to college” (LULAC: History).
Council 60 Clubhouse
The Council 60 Clubhouse in Houston served as the de facto headquarters for LULAC through the majority of the Chicana/o movement in the 1960s.
The designation of this clubhouse as a National Treasure—a place where a part of US history unfolded—speaks to the need for inclusion of the role of Latinos in US history. That is, as Al Maldonado, III, LULAC District VIII Director noted at the January 30th reception, “Latino history is US history.”
I had the honor of attending the LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse reception. Just minutes before driving to the historical site, both our intern, Theresa Mayfield, and I were sorting through documents from our Alonso S. Perales collection.
Alonso S. Perales
Alonso S. Perales was one of the founders of LULAC and the second president. Perales’ daughter, Marta Carrizales and his son, Raymond Perales, donated his collection of papers to Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage (located at the University of Houston). A conference was subsequently organized by Recovery and held in his honor in 2012.
The collection is very extensive and includes his personal documents, LULAC organizational documents (such as bylaws, history, conventions, manuscripts, resolutions, speeches, bills, news, and correspondence). Perales was only the third Mexican American to receive his law degree and dedicated his life to fighting for the civil rights of his people. He published two books, Are We Good Neighbors? and En defensa de mi raza (In Defense of My People). The Perales Collection is housed at the University of Houston’s MD Anderson Library Special Collections (read the Library’s finding aid here).
Upcoming Perales DH Projects
In an effort to highlight Perales’ civil rights work, we are currently working on creating an Alonso S. Perales Digital Archive, which will include a sampling of documents from his collection. I am also personally working on a mapping project, Are We Good Neighbors?, which will map out the recorded instances of discrimination experienced by Mexican Americans in Texas, based on the personal accounts that Perales collected from the Texas community and published in his book of the same name. To learn more about Alonso S. Perales, read the collection of essays that came out of the 2012 Recovery conference, edited by UH law professor, Michael A. Olivas, In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals.
“LULAC History: All for One and One for All.” League of United Latin American Citizens. Accessed 30 January 2018. lulac.org
“LULAC Clubhouse.” National Trust for Historic Preservation. Accessed 30 January 2018. https://savingplaces.org/lulac
Olivas, Michael A. (ed.) In Defense of My People: Alonso S. Perales and the Development of Mexican-American Public Intellectuals. Arte Público Press, 2013.
Lorena Gauthereau is a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage at the University of Houston. Find her online at https://lorenagauthereau.wordpress.com.