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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Gaines’ legacy: Cast forever

Matthew+Gaines+was+a+preacher+and+Texas+state+senator+who+lived+from+1840+to+1900.
Photo by Illustration by Kelly Burroughs

Matthew Gaines was a preacher and Texas state senator who lived from 1840 to 1900.

Decades in the making, former Texas Sen. Matthew Gaines will now have a permanent place on Texas A&M’s campus.
On Friday, Nov. 19, at 3 p.m., A&M officials and students will gather for the unveiling and dedication of the bronze Gaines statue located near the Student Services Building in the new Yolanda and Jimmy ‘65 Janacek Plaza.
Gaines, a former slave, was born on a plantation and became an early advocate for freed peoples’ rights.
According to a Texas A&M Today article, a Matthew Gaines Committee was originally formed in the 1990s, though the committee lost steam after the Bonfire collapse, a change in administrative leadership and a budget crisis. The movement did not regain momentum until 2017.
“During the fall 2017 student legislative cycle, the Texas A&M University Student Government Association, the Graduate and Professional Student Council and the Residential Housing Association each passed legislation in support of commemorating Gaines,” the article reads. “Previous attempts to construct such a statue did not move past the student legislative process.”
After raising $35,000, former Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel Pugh and a group of students hosted a public art competition in 2020, where the artist team of David Alan Clark and Mary, or MJ, Johnson Clark was selected to design and construct the statue.
“We are particularly drawn to sculptures that depict those underrepresented in public art, [such as] women and people of color, and artwork that tells a story that needs to be heard,” MJ Clark said to Texas A&M Today. “This sculpture can have an influence on the ever-moving river of students and faculty who will walk past it on a daily basis.”
Former Graduate and Professional Student Council President Matthew Etchells said the Gaines statue will remind A&M of its roots.
“As you walk from the Memorial Student Center and up the Military Walk to the Academic Building and then curve back around, it should be the narrative of Texas A&M,” Etchells said. “As you walk out of the MSC, you should see Matthew Gaines, and that’s the first thing you read about. You can see a linear journey. Then as you walk around, you can read about Old Main and the Academic Building. You get a better understanding of our Core Values and our traditions, and all these pieces start to line up. Without the inclusion of Matthew Gaines, it’s like starting a story, but you’ve torn out the page that says, ‘Once upon a time.’”

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