LULAC in Iowa

The national League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) was founded in Corpus Christie, Texas, in February 1929 to advocate for the civil rights of Latinos in the United States. During its early years, LULAC built a strong base of councils in Texas through which it fought discrimination in education, housing, and employment by negotiating with local leaders and politicians and by pursuing legal cases. In the famous Mendez vs. Westminster case in 1946, LULAC successfully challenged the segregation of Mexican American students in the California education system.

In the 1950s, under the leadership of national president Felix Tijerina, LULAC expanded into the Midwest.  Relatively little is known about these midwestern LULAC councils, many of which were short-lived. In Iowa, a handful not only survived, but developed as strong advocacy organizations that took a lead role in the civil rights movement at the state and local level in the 1960s and 1970s. Through early LULAC newsletters and administrative records, carefully preserved by founding members of Iowa councils, we gain insight into some of their activities.