Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2022
WASHINGTON — President Biden signed the Blackwell School National Historic Site Act yesterday, designating the Blackwell School site in Marfa, Texas, as part of the National Park System. This designation will permanently protect the site for future generations and help tell the history of Texas school districts that established separate elementary schools for Mexican American children through the practice of de facto segregation.
“As a nation, we must face the wrongs of our past in order to build a more just and equitable future. The ugliness of the segregation era had many impacts that we have failed as a nation to adequately acknowledge,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “This new designation will help us tell a truer American story, and ensure this important and painful chapter in our nation’s history is preserved and remembered for the generations to come.”
“It is our solemn responsibility as caretakers of America’s national treasures to tell the whole story of our nation’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “The National Park Service will continue working closely with key stakeholders dedicated to the preservation of Blackwell School, and those directly impacted by the de facto segregation of Mexican Americans during the early 1900s, to preserve and interpret this significant historic site to the public.”
The National Park Service (NPS) manages multiple sites throughout the country that preserve and share the stories of 500 years of Hispanic and Latino history. The designation of the Blackwell School National Historic Site is an important step in telling a more complete history of the Mexican American students who received education at the site. The spectrum of experiences of students and teachers at the Blackwell School constitute an important record of life in a segregated school in the context of the history of Texas and America.
Today, the Blackwell School consists of the original 1909 adobe schoolhouse and a smaller 1927 classroom building known as the Band Hall. The buildings contain photographs, memorabilia and interpretive panels that feature quotes and stories from students and teachers.
The site is currently open to the public with limited hours and services. The site is managed by the Blackwell School Alliance, a local non-profit founded by Blackwell School alumni for the purpose of preserving the school. The Alliance will continue to manage the site until the NPS acquires the property. To formally establish the park, the NPS will work with the Town of Marfa to acquire the lands intended in the law, a process which is likely to take more than a year. As the NPS completes the necessary land acquisitions to be established, it will work with partners to develop a comprehensive operational plan.
For more information please visit the NPS website.