Congressman Gonzales, Senators Cornyn and Padilla Applaud House and Senate Passage of Blackwell School Bill
Congressman Tony Gonzales and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Alex Padilla (D-CA)on Tuesday released the following statements, 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 the City of 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.”
“Understanding how the diverse history of Texas has shaped this nation is crucial for future generations,”said Sen. Cornyn.“The Blackwell School in Marfa, Texas is a symbol of the progress that has been made and what still remains. I applaud the bipartisan work to pass this bill to commemorate Latino history and culture, and I look forward to this bill being signed into law.”
“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,” said Sen. Padilla. “I’m proud to see our bill move forward to designate one of just a handful of national park sites commemorating Latino history. I look forward to the President signing this bill to preserve the Blackwell School and carry on the important history it holds as a cornerstone to Mexican heritage.”
“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. Theywere given hand-me-down furniture and outdated textbooks.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 to attend. 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 legislation in 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. Watch the video here.