Marfa’s Blackwell School to Host Annual Block Party Celebrating Cultural Heritage and National Historic Site Designation

Marfa’s Blackwell School Alliance will host its annual Blackwell Block Party on Saturday, April 22, 2023, to commemorate the rich cultural heritage of the city and celebrate the designation of the Blackwell School National Historic Site, soon to be a unit of the National Park Service. The event is free, family-friendly, and promises to be a day of great entertainment, delicious food, music, games, and fun for all ages.

The Blackwell School in Marfa, Texas, is a significant local example of the period when the practice of “separate but equal” dominated education and social systems in the United States. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2019, the school was the sole public education institution for the city’s Hispanic students from 1909 to 1965. Although there was no state law that mandated separate schools for Hispanic students, Texas school districts perpetuated the practice of de facto segregation through the mid-twentieth century. Segregated students attended the city’s original school building until 1909 when the district constructed a two-room adobe brick building on South Abbot Street. Known originally as the Ward or Mexican School, Blackwell School was later named for its longtime principal Jesse Blackwell. As the student population grew, more buildings were constructed next to the 1909 schoolhouse. Blackwell School closed in 1965 following the integration of the Marfa Independent School District.

The Blackwell Block Party is one of the initiatives of the Blackwell School Alliance to serve the Marfa community through culture, history, and education. The event will take place at the Blackwell School and Blackwell Park in south Marfa, and it will feature a range of activities for all visitors, including art, dance, music, stories, and food.

The party will kick off with Mariachi Santa Cruz playing borderland music, followed by a free lunch of tacos with toppings bar, agua fresca, and more. Folklorico will perform at 12:30 p.m., followed by a program with dignitaries and special guests. From 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., there will be more music, special talks in the museum, and loteria, and activities for kids in the park from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.

The Blackwell School Alliance invites everyone to join and bring their friends and family to the Block Party, which promises to be a day of great entertainment and celebration of Marfa’s cultural heritage. The school is located at 501 South Abbott Street, at the corner of Waco Street, in south Marfa. For more information, please send an email to

NPS Photo / David Larson


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