Blackwell School in Marfa becomes national historic site

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Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 9:45 PM CDT
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MARFA, Texas (KOSA) -Yesterday, President Joe Biden signed the Blackwell School National Historic Site Act.

Which made Blackwell School in Marfa, one of the only sites dedicated to Latino history.

Sixteen years ago, Marfa residents wanted to retrieve Blackwell School to turn it into a museum, but they never thought it would turn into a national historic site.

Blackwell School was built in 1909 and closed in 1965.

This school tells the story of defacto segregation in Texas.

Where students of Mexican descent were educated separately from white students.

In what was called “Mexican schools”.

U.S. house representative for Texas’ 23rd congressional district, Tony Gonzales, says this is his first bill signed into law and hopes to have more national historic landmarks for Latinos.

" Today is such a historic day. I’m Mexican American descent and you know in our nation, we only have two national historic sites dedicated for Latinos. Cesar Chavez site in California and now the Blackwell School in Marfa, Texas” said Gonzales.

Now that the act passed, it protects Blackwell School since it is one of the only remaining schools that segregated children of Mexican descent from white children, and to ensure that the experiences and the history is never forgotten.

The act was a collaboration of the Blackwell School Alliance, house representatives Tony Gonzales and Filemon Vela.

As well as senators John Cornyn and Alex Padilla.

Jessi Silva is a member of the Blackwell School Alliance, and she also attended this school.

She says when she moved to California, she felt weird taking classes with a diverse group of students.

“I learned the diversity, I learned to get along with people. Which has helped a lot because nowadays, I don’t care what ethnic group they’re from, I will approach them, talk to them, be friendly with them, and in Blackwell it was just stay to yourself, stay with your group. It was so different,” said Silva.

The president the Blackwell School Alliance says that the school isn’t just a site for people to see, but a site to educate people of a dark time in U.S. history.

“It’s such a bigger story. Both in segregated Hispanic education and the borderlands but really all the ways that people of Mexican descent have been treated as second class citizens,” said Gretel Enck, Blackwell School Alliance President.

Enck says with Blackwell School becoming a national historical site, it will be beneficial, because everyone who attended these schools, have different stories.

She says the national parks service will do a great job of telling these people’s stories.