Juárez-Lincoln University, a Mexican-American institution of higher learning in Austin, was founded in 1971. It represented one of several alternative educational models that emerged from a 1969 state conference of the Mexican American Youth Organization in Mission, Texas. The MAYO conference was organized by student and community leaders in response to walk-outs throughout the state, in which Hispanic students in secondary schools protested school policies and curricula, the sparsity of Mexican Americans in faculties, and the lack of Mexican-American studies. Shortly after the conference, Jacinto Treviño College was established in Mercedes. Leonard Mestas of Denver and André Guerrero served as codirectors. Political differences led to a division in 1971, and Guerrero and Mestas left to form their own school, Juárez-Lincoln.
During the first year the school operated out of a small office in Fort Worth, but in 1972 it was moved to Austin. The offices were initially located at St. Edward's University. In 1975, when Juárez-Lincoln had increased its enrollment to nearly 200, the school moved to its own campus at 715 East First Street. Juárez-Lincoln became an affiliate of the Antioch Graduate School of Education in Ohio. Until 1975 the school was known as Juárez-Lincoln Center, but with the addition of a bachelor of arts program to its master of education program, it changed its name to Juárez-Lincoln University. The institution had three programs: the master of education program, as part of the Antioch Graduate School of Education; the bachelor of arts program, in conjunction with Antioch College; and the National Farmworker Information Clearinghouse, a national resource center collecting data on migrant farm workers and migrant programs.
Juárez-Lincoln's curricula emphasized the bilingual and bicultural environment in which its students lived and worked and encouraged them to invest their skills in the local community. The school followed the "university-without-walls" model, in which students designed their own projects with the assistance of faculty advisors. Students enrolled for the M.Ed. program, for example, submitted a "practicum," or a description of work to be done, and were not required to attend classes but reported periodically to the faculty advisor. Once the course of study was completed, students presented an oral dissertation to a combined committee of faculty and community representatives. Tuition was kept low to attract students who could not afford the state schools, and grants and scholarships were available through Antioch University.
Juárez-Lincoln was closed in 1979, when Antioch University withdrew its support; J-L had an enrollment of several hundred students at the time. The Juárez-Lincoln building continued to be used by local groups, including the League of United Chicano Artists and Mujeres Artistas del Suroeste. The building, with its mural by Raul Valdez employing pre-Columbian imagery, became a symbol for East Austin residents. When real estate developers announced in 1980 that the building would be demolished to make way for an office building, neighborhood groups took the battle to court, hoping to turn the building into a neighborhood center. After litigation the building was demolished in 1983.