"Establishing the Blackwell School as a National Historic Site will cement its rich, complicated legacy for generations to come.”
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas – Congressman Tony Gonzales (R-TX-23) on Tuesday released the following statement, applauding the House and Senate passage of the Blackwell School National Historic Site Act (H.R. 4706/S. 2490):
“We must work together in Congress to paint a more accurate picture of how this country came to be. And that picture is not complete without including the history of Mexican Americans,” said Congressman Gonzales.
“For decades, the Blackwell School has been an important piece of history for Marfa, west Texas and Mexican Americans across the country. Establishing the Blackwell School as a National Historic Site will cement its rich, complicated legacy for generations to come.”
“The message that Mexican American students received when they stepped through the doors of the Blackwell School was simple: you are second-class citizens,” said Theresa Pierno,
President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association. "They were given hand-me-down furniture and outdated textbooks. They were told to bury their native language and leave it behind. They were threatened with punishments if they disobeyed. The odds were stacked against them, but many Blackwell students persevered and even saw their school as a place of joy.
"Today, Congress stood up for those same students and sent a different message: you matter, and your powerful stories will not be brushed aside or forgotten. Instead, America’s greatest storyteller, the National Park Service, should teach visitors from around the world about this little-known chapter of our country’s history.
"The National Parks Conservation Association has urged the passage of this vital legislation at every turn. We are grateful to our leaders across the aisle for championing the little schoolhouse that will soon become Blackwell School National Historic Site, one of the first national park sites to honor Latino history.”
From 1909 to 1965, the Blackwell School served as the only school for children of Mexican descent in Marfa, Texas. In 2019, the school was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and meets qualifications to become a National Historic Site.
If signed into law, this legislation would establish the Blackwell School as one of the few national park sites specifically designated to commemorate Latino history and culture in the United States.
Congressman Gonzales introduced the legislationin July 2021. A companion bill in the U.S. Senate was introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).With its passage in the House today, the bill will go to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Congressman Gonzales also delivered a floor speech in support of the bill on the House floor on Monday.