Blackwell School National Historic Site
On July 27, 2021, Texas Senator John Cornyn and California Senator Alex Padilla introduced legislation to create the Blackwell School National Historic Site. On the same day US Representatives Tony Gonzalez and Filemon Vela of Texas introduced matching legislation in the House. Here is the bill.
Preserving historical sites is crucial for future generations to understand and apply the important lessons learned as they shape the next chapter of American history. The Blackwell School in the Big Bend Region of Texas will continue to serve as a symbol of the progress that has been made and what work remains. --Senator Cornyn
The history preserved in our National Park System helps tell the rich story of our country. However, our national parks and monuments do not yet adequately represent the significant contributions, and often painful history, of diverse communities across the country. I’m proud to introduce this bill with Senator Cornyn that would designate one of just a few national park sites that commemorate Latino history. Understanding our nation’s history of segregation and discrimination in places like the Blackwell School that serves as a cornerstone to Mexican heritage, is integral to building a more inclusive and just future in America. -- Senator Padilla
The Blackwell School operated in Marfa, Texas, as a segregated school for children of Mexican descent from 1909 until Marfa schools were integrated in 1965. Yet this is much more than just a local story.
The original historic school building, and grounds on which it stands, provide an authentic setting to commemorate and interpret a time when “separate but equal” dominated our culture in ways currently unknown, and essential to understanding the American experience.
The Blackwell School Alliance has been working 15 years to preserve the stories, legacy, and buildings associated with the Blackwell School. We have partnered with many universities, state agencies, private foundations, individuals, and the City of Marfa to document and promote this important piece of Marfa history.
We have discovered, though, that this is much more than just a local story or a Hispanic story or even a Texas story: this is a truly American story. And as such, the Blackwell School has the opportunity—and the responsibility—to reach a broader audience. We have both a keen interest from our immediate family of former students and the support of partners far and wide to ensure that the Blackwell School will live on in perpetuity.
In addition to supporting important American history, the designation also brings economic benefits. Research shows that every dollar spent managing national parks and public lands generates $4 in economic value. This includes job creation, tourism income, and goods and services. Consider the impact that Fort Davis National Historic Site brings to the neighboring community of Fort Davis. In 2019, 51,000 people visited Fort Davis National Historic Site. Marfa will benefit from a new and sustainable kind of tourism.
News sources have been covering this legislation. See what the excitement is all about:
(if that link won't let you in, try the PDF)
Laredo Morning Times)
We asked you to send postcards and letters showing your support for the creation of the Blackwell School National Historic Site. You came through! with hundreds of pieces of mail. Thank you.