The Alba Club was started in the fall of 1946 at the University of Texas at Austin by a group of Mexican-American students-many of them World War II veterans-to promote cultural and social interests and to confront the discrimination faced by Spanish-speaking people in the state. Membership, open to all faculty and students at the university, initially numbered about forty-five, grew by 1952 to a little more than seventy, then leveled off to forty-four by 1958. The club's sponsors were education professor George I. Sánchez and history professor Carlos E. Castañeda. The assembly took the name Alba, which means "dawn" in Spanish, to represent the new era the founders envisioned for themselves and their people. This new age, according to Alba's first president, university student Charley Gonzales Kidder, then twenty-one, had been ushered in by his generation who, through their service in the war, had been exposed to the larger world outside the segregated towns in which they had grown up. The Alba Club was thus intended to provide these "G.I. activists," the majority of the group, with the opportunity to assist the Mexican-American community while also providing members with a network for socializing. The Alba Club also collaborated with other student groups at the University of Texas, such as the Laredo Club and the Disabled American Veterans. Though in the club's early years its female members served mainly as secretaries to the group, at least one woman was known to have been elected president of the organization.
While Alba members opposed such discrimination against Mexican Americans as exclusion from restaurants or barbershops, the club tackled a situation it considered more severe-public school segregation. The club soon joined with the League of United Latin American Citizens and the newly organized American G.I. Forum to challenge public school discrimination in the 1948 case Delgado v. Bastrop Independent School District. Alba Club members interviewed parents of children in the Bastrop schools and gathered other significant information, helping bring to twenty the total number of plaintiffs involved in the case. The group took part in another school-equity case the next year, when on January 7, 1949, Cristóbal Aldrete of the Alba Club filed on behalf of the organization a racial discrimination complaint with the Texas Department of Education against the Del Rio public schools. Officials responded to the charge by withdrawing the school district's accreditation; the state legislature, however, soon passed a bill that removed jurisdiction for accreditation decisions from the state superintendent of education to a new appointed position-commissioner of education. The Alba Club probably ceased functioning in the late 1950s. It was significant because of its probable role as one of the earliest Mexican-American student organizations at the University of Texas. Alba's involvement in the problems facing Mexican Americans foreshadowed the Chicano activism, as exemplified by the Mexican American Youth Organization, during the 1960s and 1970s. The Alba Club also had a significant impact on desegregation of education.