Inducted into the Southeastern New Mexico Education Association Hall of Fame in 1969, she devoted her career to advancing opportunities for Black children through education, encouraging and inspiring her students to pursue their personal interests and achieve their educational best.
Myrtle Attaway Farquhar, an African-American woman with a Master’s degree in teaching from Texas College, dedicated her life and career to advocating for the Black community, specifically by improving education and advancing opportunities for Black students.
Farquhar moved to Hobbs, New Mexico, with her husband who worked in the oilfields of the newly-discovered Permian Basin underlying southeastern New Mexico. In 1943, she accepted a position at Booker T. Washington School, a two-room, segregated school for black children. Opened in 1931, the school was named in honor of the 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. In the spirit of the school’s namesake, she devoted her career 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 helped finance college for ten local students.
A 1991 poster from the New Mexico Department of Education, entitled “Women Who Made a Difference in New Mexico,” describes her as: “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.”
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 from the Booker T. Washington School and is one block away from the home the Farquhars owned on Skelly Street.
Baton, Maisha. “New Mexico’s Black Women.” History of Hope: The African American Experience in New Mexico. Albuquerque: Albuquerque Museum, 1996.
Glasrud, Bruce A, Ed. African American History in New Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2013.
Lark, Thomas. Abstracts from “African American Women in New Mexico.” History of Hope: The African American Experience in New Mexico. Albuquerque: Albuquerque Museum, 1996.
Mock, Charlotte K. Bridges. New Mexico Black Women, 1900-1950. Albuquerque: 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.
Albuquerque Human Rights Office. Reflections on Black Heritage in New Mexico. Albuquerque, NM:Department of Family and Community Services, n.d.