The Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Hobbs opened in 1931 as a two-room, segregated school for black children. The name honored well-known African-American educator and civil rights leader Booker Taliaferro Washington, who spoke out frequently on the need for educational advancement in the black community.
Someone who felt similarly about that need and who advocated for such advancement—and who put her lifetime career into achieving it—was Myrtle Attaway Farquhar. An African-American woman who had received her Master's degree in teaching from Texas College, Myrtle had moved to Hobbs with her husband, George, who worked in the oilfields of the newly-discovered Permian Basin underlying southeastern New Mexico.
Accepting a position at the Booker T. Washington School in 1943, Myrtle devoted her days to educating the students in her classroom, encouraging and inspiring their interest, and pushing them to achieve their educational best. Though the couple had no children of their own, they became devoted to the children of Hobbs. In the book New Mexico Black Women, 1900-1950, author Charlotte K. Mock and the Commission on the Status of Women state that neighborhood children were tutored around the Farquhar kitchen table, and the couple even helped finance ten local students to attend college.
A 1991 poster from the New Mexico Department of Education, entitled "Women Who Made a Difference in New Mexico," had this to say about Myrtle: "Teacher in the Hobbs public school system who was an inspiration to many of her students and peers. Inducted into the Southeastern New Mexico Education Association Hall of Fame in 1969 on the recommendation of the Hobbs Teacher Association. Helped establish the Washington Heights Nursery School which grew into a community project. A street in Hobbs is named in honor of her and her husband."
Mrs. Farquhar continued teaching until her retirement in 1964, ten years after the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools were in violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Myrtle Attaway Farquhar passed away in Hobbs on October 4, 1972.
The City of Hobbs renamed Second Street to Farquhar Street in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Farquhar. The street runs two blocks away from the Booker T. Washington School. It is one block away from the home the Farquhars owned on Skelly Street.
Albuquerque Human Rights Office. Reflections on Black Heritage in New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: Department of Family and Community Services, n.d.
Baton, Maisha, Ph.D., “New Mexico’s Black Women,” in History of Hope: The African American Experience in New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: Albuquerque Museum, 1996.
Glasrud, Bruce A, Ed. African American History in New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2013.
Lark, Thomas. Abstracts from “African American Women in New Mexico” in History of Hope: The African American Experience in New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM: Albuquerque Museum, 1996.
Mock, Charlotte K. Bridges: New Mexico Black Women, 1900-1950. Albuquerque, NM: New Mexico Commission on the Status of Women, 1985.
Richardson, Barbara. Black Pioneers in New Mexico, 1776-1976, Bicentennial Edition. Rio Rancho, NM: Panorama Press, 1976.