LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse: This Place Matters

Two-story white house with Texas Historical Marker in front. House has three large windows on the second floor.

LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse (Photo: Dee Zunker For The National Trust For Historic Preservation)

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 History

LULAC was founded in 1929 as response to the discrimination faced by people of Mexican descent living in the United States.

Historic black and white photograph of restaurant sign:

PHOTO COURTESY RUSSELL LEE PHOTOGRAPHY COLLECTION AT UT-AUSTIN

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).

Red, white, and blue LULAC flag

LULAC flag, Council 60 Clubhouse. Houston, TX

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.

Photo of the Texas Historical Commission marker in front of LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse

Texas Historical Commission marker in front of LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse

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.

Alonso S. Perales, in suit, facing left

Photo: Alonso S. Perales, in suit, facing left. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library.

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.

For more photos of the LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse reception, visit us on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook).

Works cited

“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.

James L. Novarro Collection

Flyer for “La hora bautista”

We have big DH plans and lots on our to-do lists here at Recovery! I’m currently working on creating a list of US Latinx Digital Humanities Projects, as well as US Latinx digital humanists. (We’ve been brainstorming a few projects of our own that we will be working on as well, so stay tuned for those.) Right now, my DH list contains digital archives, digital art collections, and digital oral history projects. If you are working on a US Latinx digital humanities project, please share your link with us! We’d love to include yours on our list! And if you are a US Latinx digital humanist please reach out and network with us! You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Or feel free to post a comment on this blog post!

I’m also working on the data curation of one of our collections, the James L. Novarro collection. Reverend Novarro,[1] a pastor of Houston’s Kashmere Baptist Temple and state chaplain of the Political Association of Spanish-speaking Organizations (P.A.S.O.), was a civil rights activist, LULAC member, editor of the Spanish-language newspaper El Sol, and host of the first Spanish-language and longest-running radio program, La hora bautista. Rev. Novarro, along with Father Antonio Gonzales (assistant pastor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Houston), marched together with hundreds of Chicanas and Chicanos during La Marcha, “a dramatic protest march staged by striking farmworkers from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas to the state capitol in Austin during the summer of 1966” (Treviño 187-8). If you’re researching the Chicana/o movement in Houston, Mexican American religious communities, civil rights leaders, Spanish-language radio programming, Texas or Houston Mexican American communities, the Spanish-speaking Baptist community, etc. you will find a lot of material to work with in this collection!

Recovery’s James L. Novarro collection includes El Sol newspaper clippings, pamphlets, brochures, programs, flyers, booklets, photographs, committee hearings, membership lists, financial reports, handwritten notes, legal documents, business cards, song lyrics, and magazines. Please feel free to contact us if you’re interesting in researching this collection.


Footnotes

[1] In various publications, James L. Novarro is identified as Mexican American, however, his daughter-in-law wrote to us to point out that he was born in international waters to European parents on their way to the United States.

Works cited

Treviño, Roberto R. “The Church and the Chicano Movement.” The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethni-Catholicism in Houston. University of North Carolina Press, 2006, pp. 176-206.


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.