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Segregated school building lands on National Register of Historic Places

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Gonzalo Guzman
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A building that once housed a school for Spanish-speaking kids in Worland has officially been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The building was built in 1936 during the Great Depression. Gonzalo Guzman, a professor at the University of Washington who studies Mexican segregation education in the Mountain West, said the school was built when job opportunities decreased, and White residents felt threatened by Mexicans. Guzman said, as a result, Worland officials applied for and received federal relief specifically to segregate students as part of the New Deal.

"That's like the first line that they say immediately. And it went to Cheyenne, so got state approval, and local approval, and county approval. So this was like a concert of people working together to segregate these kiddos," said Guzman.

Guzman was behind the effort to get the building recognized nationally as a historic place so the history would not be forgotten

"From my research, I think the segregated school of Worland might be the only one still left intact," he said. "It's so rare because so many have just been destroyed and are just gone."

The federal government doesn't arrange for commemorative plaques as a result of the listing, so it is up to the current owners of the building to acquire one.

An in-depth story was produced by Wyoming Public Media on the history of the school.

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