The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the largest and oldest Hispanic and Latin-American
civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of ...
organization in the United States. It was established on February 17, 1929, in Corpus Christi,
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, it is the second-largest U.S. state by bo ...
, largely by
Hispanic The term ''Hispanic'' ( es, hispano) refers to people, cultures, or countries related to Spain, the Spanish language, or Hispanidad. The term commonly applies to countries with a cultural and historical link to Spain and to viceroyalties former ...
s returning from World War I who sought to end ethnic
discrimination Discrimination is the act of making unjustified distinctions between people based on the groups, classes, or other categories to which they belong or are perceived to belong. People may be discriminated on the basis of race, gender, age, re ...
against Latinos in the United States. The goal of LULAC is to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, housing, health, and civil rights of Hispanic people in the United States. LULAC uses nationwide councils and group community organizations to achieve all these goals. LULAC has about 132,000 members in the United States.


LULAC helps to promote education among Latin Americans in America. LULAC councils provide about one million dollars in scholarships to Hispanics every year. LULAC provides educational programming to disadvantaged youth throughout America. They help out 18,000 Hispanics every year. They also help Hispanics train for jobs. They have programs that provide job skills and literacy training to the Hispanic community in America.

Comparisons with the NAACP

With respect to organizational structure, the League of Latin American Citizens was similar to the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E.&nb ...
(NAACP). David G. Gutierrez said, "considering themselves part of a progressive and enlightened leadership elite, LULAC's leaders set out to implement general goals and a political strategy that were similar in form and content to those advocated early in the century by W.E.B. Du Bois and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: for an 'educated elite'". Though the two
civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals' freedom from infringement by governments, social organizations, and private individuals. They ensure one's entitlement to participate in the civil and political life of ...
groups may have possessed some institutional similarities, LULAC tried to establish distance from the
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "African American" generally denotes descendants of enslav ...
civil rights struggle. As LULAC believed that blacks were more oppressed than Latinos; its members thought that joining forces would not strengthen its own struggle for equality. LULAC asserted that many Hispanics properly fell into the "white" category of the
dichotomous A dichotomy is a partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets). In other words, this couple of parts must be * jointly exhaustive: everything must belong to one part or the other, and * mutually exclusive: nothing can belong simult ...
black-white construction of race. In 1936 the league "engaged in a series of lobbying activities as soon as it
he USCB He or HE may refer to: Language * He (pronoun), an English pronoun * He (kana), the romanization of the Japanese kana へ * He (letter), the fifth letter of many Semitic alphabets * He (Cyrillic), a letter of the Cyrillic script called ''He'' i ...
perceived that Mexican Americans would be categorized as part of a group of dark-skinned minorities." They lobbied to demonstrate that Hispanic, Latino and Mexican American were not racial classifications, but cultural groups who were racially diverse, sharing a common
Ethno-linguistic Ethnolinguistics (sometimes called cultural linguistics) is an area of anthropological linguistics that studies the relationship between a language and the nonlinguistic cultural behavior of the people who speak that language. __NOTOC__ Example ...



Ben Garza; Manuel C. Gonzales; Andres de Luna; Louis Wilmot; Alonso S. Perales; Rafael Galvan Sr.; Juan Galvan; Vicente Lozano; José Tomás Canales; Edwardo Idar; Mauro Machado; J. Luz Saenz; Juan C. Solis; E.H. Marin


LULAC was formed in 1929 as a result of the merger of several small groups also concerned with the status of Mexican Americans: the Order of the Sons of America (El Orden Hijos de America), the Order of the Knights of America (El Orden Caballeros de America) and the League of Latino American Citizens. From an early date, women organized separate Ladies Councils within LULAC. Overall, LULAC struggled to use the political system to erase discriminatory laws and practices in the U.S. Southwest. Although it was a nonpartisan group, it encouraged members to vote for candidates who were supportive of the group's ideals. The first LULAC General Convention was held in Corpus Christi, Texas on May 18, 1929 at Allende Hall owned by Rafael Galvan, Sr. and Samuel Hinojosa. The first LULAC constitution was adopted. During the 1930s, LULAC's activities included voter-registration and petition drives; attempts to repeal the
poll tax A poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual (typically every adult), without reference to income or resources. Head taxes were important sources of revenue for many governments f ...
imposed in several states, which reduced its members' ability to register; and litigation to improve the conditions of Mexican Americans. They also worked to improve education for Mexican Americans by conducting community-education campaigns and setting up a college scholarship program. These activities conformed with existing institutional structures in the United States. A major event was the 1930 court case of '' Del Rio ISD v. Salvatierra'', in which LULAC sued Del Rio Independent School District in for segregating Mexican Americans due to their race. Although the court was not fully favorable in its ruling, the case made an important inroad for desegregation cases to come.

Mexican Repatriation

LULAC followed an assimilation ideology which emerged among ''
cholos ''Cholo'' () is a loosely defined Spanish term that has had various meanings. Its origin is a somewhat derogatory term for people of mixed-blood heritage in the Spanish Empire in Latin America and its successor states as part of ''castas'', ...
'' groups around the time of the Great Depression in the United States. Although the United States had recruited Mexican workers during the first quarter century, the economic problems of the depression increased animosity against immigrants and minority groups as people competed for work. In response to such sentiment, the federal government deported an estimated 500,000 Mexican nationals and Mexican Americans (including some American citizens) during the Depression to keep more work for US citizens. As a result, the proportion of native-born Americans among the total ethnic Mexican population was higher than had been the case in previous decades, and many grew up in United States culture rather than among immigrant communities. Benjamin Marquez asserts, "This demographic shift favored the rise of a more assimilated political leadership". Earlier organizations, such as mutual-aid associations (''mutualistas'') and labor-based groups, had emphasized pan-Mexican cooperation among recent immigrants from Mexico, Mexican national residents, and Mexican Americans to combat economic, cultural, and political discrimination. But as LULAC has been interested in assimilation to the US, it admitted as members only those ethnic Mexicans who were United States citizens.

Migration and assimilation

LULAC promoted the full adaptation of its members into the dominant European-American culture, in the belief that this strategy would be the most successful way to combat discrimination. The organization claimed that discrimination was caused by
racism Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism ...
, not by the economic or political systems. LULAC promoted
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for Profit (economics), profit. Central characteristics of capitalism include capital accumulation, competitive markets, pric ...
and individualism; its leaders believed that, through hard work and assimilation into
American culture The culture of the United States of America is primarily of Western, and European origin, yet its influences includes the cultures of Asian American, African American, Latin American, and Native American peoples and their cultures. T ...
, Mexican Americans could improve their socio-economic standing. LULAC emphasized American patriotism as a path to assimilation. It asserted that Mexican Americans should disavow any allegiance to
Mexico Mexico (Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Gua ...
, remain permanently in the United States, and commit fully to democratic ideals. The league's official song is "America"; its official language is
English English usually refers to: * English language * English people English may also refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * ''English'', an adjective for something of, from, or related to England ** English national id ...
; and its official prayer is the "George Washington Prayer". The LULAC's constitution is modeled on the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the nati ...
. Because of LULAC's assimilation ideology and its advancement of the interests of Mexican-American citizens, it advocated restrictions on immigration. LULAC's central means of achieving equal status with European Americans was dependent on promoting the image of Mexican residents as conforming to the cultural norms of the United States. The League recognized that most of the dominant society did not distinguish among the cultures and attitudes of immigrants, citizens, and naturalized persons of Mexican descent. New immigrants from Mexico resisted the assimilation strategy, as they had stronger ties to their native culture, limited English proficiency, and were willing to work for low wages. Some Mexican Americans knew that they would be lumped together with the recent immigrants and be perceived as "un-American", "backward", and "poor," and would be discriminated against. The league members shared the fear of many working-class Americans that the new immigrants, willing to work for low wages and contributing to job competition against Mexican Americans due to their numbers, would economically harm Mexican American citizens. While other ethnic groups had similar tensions between more settled citizens and new immigrants (such as between German Jews and more recent immigrants of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews at the end of the nineteenth century), a major difference for Mexicans and Mexican Americans was the continuing high rate of immigration into the United States, strengthening ties to the homeland culture and language.

Role of women

LULAC was one of the first national organizations to place emphasis on the role of women. By 1938, the first women's national office was created. State coordinators for women carry out local programs for women. There are many different programs and conferences for women created by the league. Like "Adelante Mujer Hispana" and two-day conferences that discuss education and employment. Belen Robles served as the first national president of LULAC, starting in 1994.

After World War II

During World War II the membership and activity of the organization decreased significantly. Many of its members joined or were drafted into the armed forces. LULAC campaigned against the Emergency Farm Labor Program (also known as the Bracero Program), which began in 1942 to fill the farm-labor shortage that resulted from the draft following the US entry into World War II. Although Mexican workers in this program were under contract with the government to go to the United States to work and to return to Mexico after a set amount of time, LULAC saw the program as paving the way for increased permanent immigration from Mexico. LULAC's opposition to the Bracero Program was consistent with its support for restricted immigration, as described earlier. After the war, LULAC was revived by the enthusiasm of returning veterans who sought to claim the civil liberties they believed they had earned by their loyal military service. The group continued to help the Mexican community with local activities such as Christmas toy drives, sponsoring Boy Scout troops, and campaigns against poll taxes.

School desegregation

During the 1950s, LULAC began the Little School of the 400 program, which was designed to teach Mexican-American children 400 English words before they began first grade. The project was initially run by volunteers, and shown after the first class to be successful in preparing children to do better in school; out of 60 participating children, only one had to repeat the first grade. The program expanded, and LULAC convinced the
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, it is the second-largest U.S. state by bo ...
legislature to underwrite it. Between 1960 and 1964 over 92,000 children benefited from the LULAC-initiated, English-centered preschool program. LULAC also sued school districts which practiced segregation. Examples of successful cases include '' Mendez v. Westminster'' in 1945 and ''Minerva Delgado V. Bastrop Independent School District'' in 1948. In the Mendez case,
Thurgood Marshall Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American civil rights lawyer and jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1967 until 1991. He was the Supreme Court's first African-A ...
, then a lawyer for the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans by a group including W. E.&nb ...
(NAACP) filed an
amicus brief An ''amicus curiae'' (; ) is an individual or organization who is not a party to a legal case, but who is permitted to assist a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case. The decision on ...
in support of LULAC. As Marquez notes, "Relying strictly on the volunteer labor of LULAC attorneys and their staff, from 1950–1957, approximately fifteen suits or complaints were filed against school districts throughout the Southwest". These victories contributed precedents that were consulted in the deliberation by the
United States Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all U.S. federal court cases, and over state court cases that involve a point ...
in the '' Brown v. Board of Education'' (1954) case. In 1965, the 146 Councils were distributed among eight states, and by 1977, LULAC had offices in 21 states. Benjamin Marquez asserts, "Segregated schools, inferior equipment, and the lack of qualified teachers were seen as the primary obstacles to the full economic and social assimilation of the Mexican American". LULAC believed that the public-school system, with the aforementioned issues corrected, would serve as a central instrument in the assimilation process of children, and thereby the Mexican-American community as a whole. It fully supported education of its members and adoption of fluent English. They believed that through formal education, Mexican Americans would learn how to function in American institutions, socialize with European-American children, and gain education to qualify for higher skilled jobs.

Chicano Movement

The rise of more radical groups in the 1960s brought change to LULAC. They began to turn away from supporting assimilation. They began to use public protest to bring attention to their cause. The group also began to seek government funding and grants to help build support for the group.

Late-20th century

Despite national visibility, LULAC lost strength since the late-twentieth century, with declines in membership and operating funds because of competition from other Mexican-American groups. According to Benjamin Marquez, LULAC found it difficult to meet the needs and desires of an increasingly diverse Mexican-American population, in which immigrants have made up an increasingly higher proportion. He writes, "While the league's public profile grew in the mid-1960s, and the group was involved in a wide range of political activities, these events occurred with decreasing mass participation".

Local council impact

Founded in Corpus Christi in 1929, LULAC expanded first in Texas, adding 18 councils the next year. More were added in the next decade, but again mostly in Texas. With World War II, LULAC began to extend its reach to California, Arizona, New Mexico, and later Colorado. Victory in a precedent-setting 1945 lawsuit challenging segregation of Mexican American students in Orange County, California, helped the organization grow. LULAC claimed 2,500 members in 1951 and the number of chapters reached 83 in 1955 shortly after another pivotal legal victory (''Hernandez v. Texas''). The next decade brought LULAC new influence and a new geography, reflecting the Tejano diaspora that was now spreading into the upper Midwest. In 1965 the 146 Councils were distributed among 8 states. By 1977, LULAC had a presence in 21 states yet the total number of Councils had declined. But in 1988, LULAC saw a resurgence in new Councils as 551 were founded bringing the total to over 600. LULAC Councils and state offices were in 32 states including Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, and reaching new geographies in the Upper East Coast and Florida. From an early date women organized separate Ladies Councils.

Current activities


The LULAC National Educational Service Centers (LNESC) are part of a non-profit educational advancement organization which helps students with direct-service programs and scholarships.

Legal campaigns

Roger Rocha (born ), a health-care analyst from Laredo, Texas, was elected as the 2015 LULAC president at the annual meeting held in
Salt Lake City Salt Lake City (often shortened to Salt Lake and abbreviated as SLC) is the capital and most populous city of Utah, United States. It is the seat of Salt Lake County, the most populous county in Utah. With a population of 200,133 in 2020, ...
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. He vowed to push for unity in the organization. In July 2017, Rocha strongly endorsed the lawsuit against Texas Senate Bill 4 which ends
sanctuary cities Sanctuary city (; ) refers to municipal jurisdictions, typically in North America, that limit their cooperation with the national government's effort to enforce immigration law. Leaders of sanctuary cities say they want to reduce fear of deport ...
in the state. The measure, signed into law by
Governor A governor is an administrative leader and head of a polity or political region, ranking under the head of state and in some cases, such as governors-general, as the head of state's official representative. Depending on the type of political ...
Greg Abbott Gregory Wayne Abbott (born November 13, 1957) is an American politician, attorney, and former jurist serving as the 48th governor of Texas since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, he served as the 50th attorney general of Texas from 2002 ...
, permits law enforcement officers to inquire about the legal documentation of suspects detained for other reasons. Rocha claims that the bill was "specifically created to target Latinos," the largest minority group in Texas. In 2018, the Richmond Council for LULAC and four individual voters filed a federal lawsuit, ''LULAC of Richmond v. Public Interest Legal Foundation'', in the Eastern District of Virginia against the Public Interest Legal Foundation for false reports about non-citizen voters published online. The lawsuit claimed violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act and the
Voting Rights Act The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the civil rights moveme ...
, as well as state defamation laws. The plaintiffs were successful.

See also

* American GI Forum (AGIF) * Latino *
NALEO The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) is the 501(c)(4) nonpartisan leadership organization of the nation's more than 6,700 Latino elected and appointed Latino public officials in the United States. NALEO Ed ...
, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials * '' League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry'' * MALDEF * Mexican-American Education Council (MAEC) * National Immigration Forum *
National Council of La Raza UnidosUS, formerly National Council of La Raza (NCLR) ( La Raza), is the United States's largest Latino nonprofit advocacy organization. It advocates in favor of progressive public policy changes including immigration reform, a path to citize ...
(NCLR) * Nativism (politics) in the United States#Hispanic targets *
SVREP The Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP), founded in 1974, is the oldest and largest non-partisan Latino voter participation organization in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known ...
, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project * Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)


Further reading

* Gutiérrez, David G. ''LULAC and the Assimilationist Perspective'' (New York University Press, 1998). * Kaplowitz, Craig A. ''LULAC, Mexican Americans, and national policy'' (Texas A&M University Press, 2005). * Kaplowitz, Craig A. "A distinct minority: LULAC, Mexican American identity, and presidential policymaking, 1965–1972." ''Journal of Policy History'' 15.2 (2003): 192-222. * Marquez, Benjamin. ''LULAC: The evolution of a Mexican American political organization'' (U of Texas Press, 1993). * * * Rook, Brian W. "LULAC: Mexican-American Adult Learning, Collectivism, and Social Movement." ''Journal of Adult Education'' 42.2 (2013): 55-59

External links

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Councils 1929-1965
A map o
councils throughout the country from 1929 to 1965, based on information in LULAC annual reports.
LULAC council map
Shows a map about current LULAC council. *
''The MacNeil-Lehrer Report''; 7022; Reagan Immigration Policy
, 1981-07-30, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting ( WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC {{DEFAULTSORT:League Of United Latin American Citizens 1929 establishments in Texas Civil rights organizations in the United States Hispanic and Latino American organizations Organizations established in 1929 Political advocacy groups in the United States