Have as much fun, while hurting as few people

The Texas Story Project.

From growing up in a Mexican-American community as a Caucasian male to being poisoned with pesticides to recording the schizophrenic case of Leonard Little to becoming a school teacher, this is the life of a person dearest to me--my former broadcast teacher but forever-influencer, Mr. Blackard. 

Robert Neal Blackard Jr. was born in Carrizo Springs Texas on May 30th, 1958. He was raised in his hometown, Crystal City, Texas with a population of around 86% Mexican American people. Mr. Blackard was a Caucasian child living with a community of Mexican American people and because of this he was able to pick up Spanish quick and could speak it by the age of 4. He enjoyed being at his grandmother's house along with his friends. Mr. Blackard remembers during his middle school years the walkouts that occurred to protest the racism that took place in their school systems. La Raza Unida was prominent in Crystal City and made it possible to elect a new school board and city council. Due to new staff members at the school it was decided that all credits were removed. Since Mr. Blackard wanted a higher education, he was forced to move back to his birthplace Carrizo Springs to attend high school for a while but unfortunately his family wasn’t welcome. He moved again and spent his junior and senior years at a boarding school in Laredo, Texas called Holding Institute. He and his friends jokingly called the school Holding Cell Institute. Since Holding Institute was on the trimester system, he was able to obtain all credits by February of 1976. 

Mr. Blackard moved back to Carrizo Springs and worked at a cannery from 7pm to 7am with practically no days off, in horrific conditions. He also worked with his mother's second husband at his crop-dusting company, and while filling a plane with pesticides despite wearing protective gear he was poisoned and had to be air-lifted to San Antonio, Texas by an Army Medevac Helicopter. Besides the terrible jobs that Mr. Blackard had he was always interested in science. In fact, for Christmas, he asked for a microscope and a telescope. Once he received them, he liked looking at the moon as well as looking at objects with his microscope. In fifth and sixth grade, he had to be tutored in math and then in high school he had trouble with Algebra. One day he was browsing course textbooks and saw that there was lots of math involved, he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to pursue a career in Science. Fortunately, during his time at Holding Institute he was able to attend a game show about road laws that none of his other classmates wanted to go to, but he didn't pass up the offer. At the television station where the game show took place, he and his team unfortunately lost, but he was still able to take a tour of the television station. When he was at the station, he liked how the lights weren't too bright for his eyes, he liked all the cool equipment and most of all the people. This moment changed his whole life.  

After this he went back to his birthplace Carrizo Springs and went down to the radio station that was there, KBEN, and the owner of the station was there and hired him on the spot. Mr. Blackard watched him for 2 hours to see his hand placement and how things were run, after that time the owner stood up and asked if he got it, and left him to go live on the air. Mr. Blackard, then learned how to speak comfortably on air and how to manage the complicated setup of recording the crop report. Mr. Blackard then attended college at Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, Texas which was a one-hour ride from Crystal City. While in college he also picked up a part-time job at another radio station. KYUF in Uvalde, Texas filling in for other radio hosts who needed time off. Mr. Blackard attended what is now Texas State but was called Southwest Texas State in San Marcos and received a bachelor's degree in Broadcast journalism in 4 years and then went on to get his teacher’s certification. 

When Mr. Blackard graduated, he applied at the San Antonio State Hospital in 1982. While there he filmed the people there for documentation purposes. Mr. Blackard had the chance to record a man by the name of Leonard Little who had 8 different personalities. He worked there for 15 years. In 1997 Mr. Blackard,  moved to Brackenridge High School here in San Antonio where he has been working there for 22 years and feels right at home. Mr. Blackard takes pride in offering opportunities to students to make a career on a video crew or news station, which in fact he does. Mr. Blackard has students at practically every news station in San Antonio as well as a few students in other states. One of Mr. Blackard’s crew won an Emmy award and another crew was able to stream for the White House. 

Unfortunately, a few months ago, Mr. Blackard developed melanoma in his left shoulder. It was removed and there has been no sign of it, but more recently he has developed kidney cancer. He had surgery 3 weeks before the 2019 school semester and thankfully that was removed as well. Now Mr. Blackard lives by the quote, “Have as much fun you can in this life, while hurting as few people as possible” and gives credit to his mother, grandmother and great grandmother, the Guzman family in Crystal City, his professors, and his current coworkers. 

Zachary Ramirez is a freshman Communication Studies major and a Visual Communication Design minor at St. Mary’s University. He was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. He has grown a passion for Broadcast Television and wants to pursue a career in it. Zachary has experience working on a video crew to film sports as well as working in a studio to create newscasts.

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