League of United Latin American Citizens Is Founded Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

One of the oldest Hispanic advocacy organizations joined different Latino groups in a cohesive front, creating the League of United Latin American Citizens. The group stressed acculturation and working to gain acceptance for Hispanics in the United States, and it worked especially hard to raise the level of education of the Hispanic community.

Summary of Event

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was formed in order to unite all Latin American organizations in the United States under one title. In 1927, the main Latin American groups were the Sons of America, Sons of America the Knights of America, Knights of America and the League of Latin American Citizens; League of Latin American Citizens other, less well known, groups existed as well. The Sons of America had councils in Sommerset, Pearsall, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, Texas; the Knights of America had a council in San Antonio; the League of Latin American Citizens had councils in Harlingen, Brownsville, Laredo, Peñitas, La Grulla, McAllen, and Gulf, Texas. [kw]League of United Latin American Citizens Is Founded (Feb. 17, 1929) [kw]Latin American Citizens Is Founded, League of United (Feb. 17, 1929) League of United Latin American Citizens [g]United States;Feb. 17, 1929: League of United Latin American Citizens Is Founded[07240] [c]Civil rights and liberties;Feb. 17, 1929: League of United Latin American Citizens Is Founded[07240] [c]Education;Feb. 17, 1929: League of United Latin American Citizens Is Founded[07240] [c]Organizations and institutions;Feb. 17, 1929: League of United Latin American Citizens Is Founded[07240] Garza, Ben Perales, Alonso S. Sáenz, José de la Luz Lozano, Juan B. Canales, José Tomás

As more Anglo-Americans moved into Texas, persons of Spanish or Mexican descent experienced open discrimination and segregation that placed them in the position of second-class citizens. They had been under the rule of six different countries before Texas entered the Union. Most had continued to live and work as they always had, without being assertive about their rights. Discrimination;ethnic As time progressed, however, many Hispanics found that prejudice and discrimination were becoming less tolerable. Groups began to form to give more weight to requests that these practices cease. The Sons of America Council No. 4 in Corpus Christi, led by Ben Garza, originated a unification plan, believing that if all Hispanic organizations would regroup into one strong, unified, and vocal organization, more attention would be brought to the plight of those who were being discriminated against.

On August 14, 1927, delegates from the Sons of America, the Knights of America, and smaller groups met in Harlingen, Texas, to form LULAC. The resolution that was presented was adopted by those in the meeting. It was expected that the leaders of the major groups—Alonso S. Perales, José de la Luz Sáenz, José Tomás Canales, and Juan B. Lozano of the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas—would be invited by the president general of the Sons of America to begin the unification process. In response to concerns about the merger expressed by some members, Council No. 4 of the Sons of America drafted an agreement between itself and the Knights of America to unite. These two groups waited a year for the merger to be completed. Perales, president general of the Latin American League, stayed in close contact with Garza to maintain interest in the merger among the three main groups. However, the president general of the Sons of America never called the convention. After a long wait, Council No. 4 withdrew from the Sons of America on February 7, 1929. Participants at this meeting again voted to have a general convention for the purpose of unification. Invitations were sent to all the groups to meet in Corpus Christi, Texas, to vote on the merger on February 17, 1929.

Along with interested members of the Hispanic groups, Douglas Weeks, Weeks, Douglas a professor at the University of Texas, attended not only to study the merger but also to open the convention as a nonaligned attendee. Ben Garza was elected chairman pro tem. His popularity as an energetic and fair civic leader made him a good spokesperson for the new group. The assembly had to choose a chairman, plan a single constitution, and select a name that would encompass the goals of the previously separate groups. The committee chosen to select a name included Juan Solis and Mauro Machado of the Knights of America, Perales and Canales of the Latin American League, E. N. Marin and A. de Luna of Corpus Christi, and Fortunio Treviño of Alice, Texas. Machado, of the Knights of America, proposed “United Latin American Citizens.” This was amended to read “League of United Latin American Citizens,” which was seconded by Canales. On February 17, 1929, LULAC formally came into being at Corpus Christi, Texas.

The naming committee undertook other proposals before coming back to the general convention. Canales proposed the motto “All for one and one for all” as a reminder of the purpose of the groups in uniting and as a basis for their future activities. The committee also set some basic rules to guide the league until a constitutional convention could be held. This convention was called for May 18 and 19, 1929, with an executive committee made up of Garza, M. C. Gonzales as secretary, and Canales and Sáenz as members at large. On May 18, the first meeting under the new title was called. The constitution proposed by Canales was adopted, and new officers were elected. The officers were Garza, president general; Gonzales, vice president general; de Luna, secretary-general; and Louis C. Wilmot of Corpus Christi, treasurer general. George Washington’s prayer was adopted from the ritual of the Sons of America, and the U.S. flag was adopted as the group’s official flag.


The new group set about working to remove injustices that had been building for many years. LULAC was chartered in 1931 under the laws of the state of Texas and later in New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado, as other councils were formed. LULAC began issuing LULAC Notes, but in August, 1931, the first issue of LULAC News was published.

In the formative years, auxiliaries were started by women whose husbands were active LULAC members. Between 1937 and 1938, junior LULAC councils were formed under the sponsorship of adult councils. In 1940, LULAC councils peaked, but with the beginning of World War II, the councils weakened with the departure of the men to military service. In 1945 and 1946, LULAC began to make great strides, as educated, trained men returned from service. Prestigious positions were filled by Hispanics, and discrimination lessened. Non-Hispanics joined as well, and LULAC moved toward achieving its objectives.

When the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s began, other Hispanic groups with a more militant response to discrimination began to form. Leaders such as the charismatic preacher Reies López Tijerina in New Mexico and Rodolfo Gonzalez in Denver marched in protest of the treatment Hispanics were receiving. César Chávez led farmworker groups in California on peaceful marches that frequently erupted into violent confrontations as the numbers of militant members rose. LULAC did not totally support all these movements. Its members preferred mediation to resolve serious disagreements and education for all Hispanics as better ways of blending peacefully into the U.S. mainstream.

LULAC evolved to stress education especially. Parents were encouraged to prepare their children well to enter school. English was encouraged as the primary language, Spanish as the second language. As students matured, they were encouraged to finish high school and enter college. For those who aspired to higher learning, LULAC sponsored many scholarships; it also offered other forms of financial aid and counseling. LULAC Education Centers, located in urban centers, provided this help. With corporate and federal aid, these centers made it possible for disadvantaged Hispanic American youth to become productive members of their American communities. League of United Latin American Citizens

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">De la Garza, Rodolfo O., ed. Ignored Voices: Public Opinion Polls and the Latino Community. Austin: Center for Mexican American Studies, University of Texas at Austin Press, 1987. Argues that the opinions of Hispanic people were virtually ignored, politically and otherwise, except in heavily Hispanic communities.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Garcia, F. Chris, ed. Latinos and the Political System. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988. Discusses some of the political problems that prompted the formation of organizations such as LULAC.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Garcia, Mario T. Mexican-Americans: Leadership, Ideology, and Identity, 1930-1960. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1989. A thorough treatise on Hispanic assimilation into the mainstream of U.S. business and community.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Kaplowitz, Craig A. LULAC, Mexican Americans, and National Policy. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2005. A study of the history of LULAC in relation to the larger history of Mexian American advocacy and activism in the twentieth century. Bibliographic references and index.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Mirande, Alfredo. The Chicano Experience: An Alternative Perspective. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1985. A view into the life of the less accepted Hispanic, the Chicano. Gives information on La Raza, a more militant group representing Hispanics of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Shorris, Earl. Latinos: A Biography of the People. New York: W. W. Norton, 1992. A collection of information on Hispanics in the United States, and a general overview of those Hispanics who immigrated and settled during the 1900’s.

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Categories: History