This week, a Midtown Houston building, which once housed a group dedicated to the advancement of the rights of Hispanic Americans, became a “National Treasure.”

The League of United Latin American Citizens’ (LULAC’s) Council 60 Clubhouse, located at 3004 Bagby, received the prestigious designation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, as well as a $140,000 grant awarded for historic buildings damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Once serving as the working national headquarters for LULAC from 1955 through the 1960s, the organization worked to fight discrimination against Hispanic citizens, including legal battles against segregation in public schools.

Civil rights attorneys, business owners and community leaders reportedly met at the house to discuss legal strategies, and Houston’s LULAC chapter also holds some national historic significance:

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On November 21, 1963, President John F. Kennedy attended a LULAC gala in Houston – an event marking the first time a sitting president visited the group; First Lady Jackie Kennedy gave a speech in Spanish to the attendees.

The clubhouse also housed a preschool program called “The Little School of the 400,” with its cirriculum serving as the model to the federal Head Start program launched in 1965.

“The LULAC Clubhouse is not only an irreplaceable reminder that bold ideas often take shape in modest places, but also, that more needs to be done to learn from our nation’s collective civil rights contributions,” Stephanie Meeks, the National Trust for Historic Preservation president and CEO, said in an interview.

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Ray Valdez, LULAC Council 60 Clubhouse president, told Houston Public Media the group hopes to raise another $500,000 to convert the building into a museum and a meeting place.

The declaration of a site dedicated to civil rights as a “National Treasure” comes at a time when the current Administration is seeking to restrict immigration, placing a number of families in danger of being torn apart through deportation already occurring nationwide, as well as build a 2,000-mile-long wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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