MARFA, Texas (KXAN) — Another part of Texas has been added to the National Park System.
President Biden on Tuesday signed an act designating the Blackwell School site in Marfa, Texas as the newest national park. The designation will permanently protect the site for future generations and help keep its history alive.
Blackwell School tells the story of Texas school districts that established separate elementary schools for Mexican American children through the practice of de facto segregation, which was when students were separated from their white peers even though there wasn’t legislation that required it. Many Texas school districts followed this practice.
Education in Marfa for children of Mexican descent dates from the 1880s and is commemorated today in the historic schoolhouse built in 1909, according to Blackwell School’s website.
Blackwell closed in 1965 when a new elementary school opened and Marfa’s schools achieved integration.
“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,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said. “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 manages multiple sites throughout the country that preserve and share the stories of 500 years of Hispanic and Latino history, the press release said.
NPS said 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 site 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 act to designate it as a National Historic Site was authored in January.