The River Always Wins
Mr. Marquis’ new book, published by Deep Vellum Publishing, is due out in August. It is
about water as a metaphor for hope in our troubled times.
From 2011-2018, Mr. Marquis consulted with the Texas Conservation Alliance on water issues. During that time he wrote op-eds for both The Dallas Morning News and the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram on water conservation and developments in water technology. He worked for the successful passage of House Concurrent Resolution 74 during the 2015 Texas Legislative Session, a bill that promotes water recycling and renewable energy. Mr. Marquis is helping to develop a public-private partnership that will build an urban wetlands using native plants near downtown Dallas and will include flood mitigation, hike and bike trails, water filtration, and transit connections. He has also spoken to many organizations and public officials throughout North Texas on water conservation and issues such as planning and water recycling. Dallas Water Utilities has acknowledged the role of Mr. Marquis and the Texas Conservation Alliance in helping to shape the City of Dallas Long Range Water Supply Plan.
Three Major Issues: Environment, Human Rights, Education,
Mr. Marquis has worked throughout his life in three major areas: education, the environment, and human rights. For example, he is the founder of the 118 acre Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, which saved virgin urban forest from being bulldozed. The preserve became a national model for sustainability and affordability. It is thought to be the first use of a conservation easement in Dallas zoning history and provided 250 units of affordable senior housing, a new library built to Silver LEED standards, a new elementary school, and eight miles of hike and bike trails. He began chairing the Mayor’s Green Building Task Force in Dallas in 2006, which has rewritten the building and development codes of the city in order to create a more sustainable future. He participated in and led efforts to create the new City of Dallas Tree Ordinance and the new Park Land Dedication Ordinance. These efforts, along with influencing the passage of the Multi-Family Recycling Ordinance, led to the greenest month in Dallas history in June of 2018, with the passage of three major environmental ordinances with unanimous votes from the Dallas City Council on all three initiatives. He played an essential role in the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan, which was passed unanimously by the Dallas City Council in May of 2020. He is also considered to be the father of the Blue/Green/Grey holistic infrastructure movement
International Experience/Human Rights
In 1984 Mr. Marquis was an election observer in El Salvador. In 1985 he traveled to South Africa during the anti-apartheid movement. In India he visited the ashrams where Mahatma Gandhi conducted his work in non-violence. He also traveled to Nicaragua and later made two trips to the Philippines to participate in grassroots economic development work with villagers outside of Manila. He spent time with the Afghan freedom fighters in
refugee camps along the border of Pakistan when they were at war with the Soviet Union, visiting hospitals and interviewing leaders of factions of the mujahedin.
I AM A TEACHER/Education
Upon graduating from Austin College in 1973, Mr. Marquis began his teaching career in the Dallas area. He developed and taught an interdisciplinary American Studies curriculum as early as 1974.
In 1976, one of his former students was tragically shot to death, long before teenage violence became commonplace in America. The trauma of this event caused him to write a play about what it means to be a teacher who really cares about his students. First performed in 1977, I AM A TEACHER began to tour regularly in 1980-81 and was presented throughout America for the next sixteen years. Those years comprised Part One and Part Two of the play.
Mr. Marquis performed I AM A TEACHER at the Kennedy Center, in forty of the fifty states, in theaters, schools, civic centers, corporate board rooms, and colleges and universities, including Duke, Princeton, Vassar, and USC. He even performed once in a congressional hearing room. IAAT was a featured presentation at the first two national conferences of Teach for America. Corporate sponsors included Bank of America, IBM, Kodak, and ARCO.
In 1990, Simon and Schuster published the book I AM A TEACHER, which featured photographs and interviews of teachers in all fifty states. It was a Critic’s Choice in Time magazine and received a five-page spread in Newsweek. Mr. Marquis co-authored the book with gifted photographer Robin Sachs. The book became the basis for the “Be a Teacher, Be a Hero,” campaign, which was the most successful public service ad campaign in the history of the Ad Council.
He has completed an update of the play and re-launched the project, which is I AM A TEACHER Part Three. Mr. Marquis is undertaking this endeavor in part because he continues to receive emails, phone calls, and comments from people who saw the play decades ago and yet can still describe in detail the impact that I AM A TEACHER had on them.
Other Stage Plays
Mr. Marquis has written and performed six one-person plays in addition to the I AM A TEACHER trilogy. These include: Celebrate America, Twirlin’ the Moon, Out Here in America, The Old, Old Story, The Purple Finger, and Down A Long Road. These plays have been produced throughout the country, including the historic Lambs Theatre in New York City and in venues large and small from coast to coast.
His two-person stage play The Land has been hailed as a work that will live on for decades by leaders in the land conservation movement.
His play The Last Cowboy, about the American West, starred recording artist R.W. Hampton and won awards from the Smithsonian and from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
Making Love a Way of Life, published by Argus Communications in 1977, sold 77,000 copies. Celebrate America, from McKintex Press, accompanied a one-person stage play of the same title and was released during the American Bicentennial in 1976. Twirlin’ the Moon was published in 1980 by H.F. Thompson Press and accompanied a seventeen city tour of the author’s one-person stage play of the same title.
Film, Print, and Broadcast
In 1980 and 1981, Mr. Marquis wrote and presented a daily radio commentary on KERA’s Morning Edition. In 1981 he received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to record the oral history of Texas’ senior citizens in order to preserve the heritage of Texas. These stories were aired on KERA 90.1. He also presented commentaries on KERA TV news programs. In 1982 he became a featured commentator on NBC TV-Channel 5. He has been a frequent contributor of op-ed pieces to The Dallas Morning News.
In 1986, on the first celebration of Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday, Mr. Marquis co-produced a documentary called In Remembrance of Martin for PBS and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change. With WNET in New York as the sponsoring station and AT&T as the major funder, the film aired three years in a row in primetime PBS during the King holiday. At the film’s premier in Atlanta, the late Coretta Scott King called it the best documentary ever made about her husband.
In addition to his earlier teaching career, Mr. Marquis also initiated and directed a psychodrama program for the most violent juvenile offenders in the Dallas ISD. One of these students, who was arrested for selling guns in the hallway of his school, completed the program successfully and has gone on to become a professional playwright.
Mr. Marquis has lectured frequently at the SMU Graduate School of Engineering’s Sustainability Program on sustainability and social justice. He has also lectured
at Perkins School of Theology, teaching storytelling and presentation skills to divinity students.
David Marquis is a 1969 graduate of Lubbock High School, alma mater of Buddy Holly. He received his B.A. and his M.A. from Austin College, a highly regarded liberal arts school in Sherman, Texas.
In 1992, Mr. Marquis was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Austin College. He has also received certification as a Texas Master Naturalist from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Born into a family of storytellers, David Marquis grew up on the high, dry plains of West Texas listening to family stories of the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, of World War II and starting over after years of lean times.
His late father, W. A. Marquis, Jr., once fired an employee for using a racial slur in the office. Lucile, his late mother, organized a county-wide medical program to take care of the health needs of the children of migrant workers who came through Lubbock every fall for the cotton harvest.
His late uncle, Joe Atkins, came home from the Pacific a highly decorated Marine veteran of World War II. For the next fifty years he ranched the short grass prairie of eastern New Mexico, working the land with his own hands.
David’s late aunt, Beth Atkins, received her law degree from the University of Texas in the early 1940’s. When young male attorneys were shipped off to the war or the Pentagon, Beth and another female attorney clerked for the Supreme Court of Texas. Recently, more than 50 years later, the Supreme Court of Texas honored them at a banquet for their service during the Second World War.
Hazel Atkins, his maternal grandmother, widowed while still in her 50’s, became an inspector in a Boeing plant during the war, overseeing the work of men on the assembly line. Oner of her earliest memories was of marching in a Suffragette parade with her mother.
His wife Diana has for many years been a leader in both the Latino and the arts communities in Dallas.
David Marquis owes his love of a good story, his sense of social justice, his ties to nature and the land, and his first-hand experience with both strong women and strong men to his family.
He dedicates his work, both as an author and a speaker, to his grandchildren, that he might leave the world a better place for them.