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

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

The Battalion

Brazos County officials are distributing free backpacks, school supplies and gift cards for K-12 students on July 12 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Bryan High Silver Campus Cafeteria.
Brazos County to distribute free school supplies
‘Back to School Bash’ invites K-12 families on July 12
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • July 11, 2024
Graduate G Tyrece Radford (23) drives to the basket during Texas A&Ms game against Nebraska in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday, March 22, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
How Tyrece Radford can catch the attention of NBA scouts
Roman Arteaga, Sports Writer • July 10, 2024

After 5 years of college basketball at Virginia Tech and Texas A&M, Tyrece Radford is furthering his athletic career with the San Antonio...

Craig Reagans 1973 brown Mach 1 Mustang features custom stickers of Craig and his wife, and is completely rebuilt from the ground up. The interior was completely torn out and replaced with new dashboard and radio.
Compassion in the car community
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • July 9, 2024

This past Sunday, Cars and Coffee welcomed exactly one car: a sleek, brown Mustang that stood alone like a lone ranger in the Wild West. This...

Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
Analysis: Chancellor Sharp’s retirement comes with new dilemmas
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • July 2, 2024

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp announced Monday he will be retiring on June 30, 2025.  A figure notorious in state politics,...

Movement to erect statue continues

Matthew Gaines — a former slave and Texas state senator — is the subject of ongoing efforts to erect an on-campus statue in commemoration of his fight for the rights of blacks.
Gaines is considered by several students an instrumental part of the 19th century legislation that created A&M. His personal and legislative accomplishments should be honored by a campus statue, advocates say, but significant obstacles such as funding and tepid public opinion stand in the way.
“Matthew Gaines was a slave and moved around the United States — Louisiana, I think Arkansas — but he eventually got to Texas after the liberation,” said Alex Lambros, petroleum engineering senior and Student Affairs Fee Advisory Board chair. “He was in Texas and was elected to be a Republican senator in the Texas Senate. As a senator, he fought passionately for the newfound rights of African-Americans and the rights of everyone in general.”
Texas A&M was originally established as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in 1876 under the federal Morrill Land-Grant Act. Lambros said Gaines is a largely unsung proponent who stressed public education because he thought it was important for newly freed African-Americans to get an education.
In the winter of 1870, the 12th Texas Legislature convened and debated Texas’ participation in the Morrill Act. “The Democrats did not see the advantage in it,” Lambros said. “They thought that allowing the federal government to come into the state would threaten the state and take away its power. The Republicans said, ‘Here’s money from the state to build a public education system, so let’s do it and let’s educate our people,’ and of course Matthew Gaines would have focused especially on the African-American community.”
Kasey Kram, agribusiness senior and SGA administration executive vice president, said the work and initiative of Gaines laid the foundation for the future of Texas A&M, whether he was aware of it or not.
“He didn’t necessarily realize what the Morrill Act was going to do — he just realized that the importance of an education like that is critical to the future of our country,” Kram said.
Lambros said a statue would be a great way to honor Gaines and his efforts, as well as to educate the student body about an important part of university history. The statue initiative has floated around the university for decades with little to no progress or awareness.
“I’ve asked a lot of students, ‘Have you ever heard of Matthew Gaines?’ And the answer from everyone was, ‘No,’” Lambros said. “So I think the statue is really important and I know that a committee was actually founded by Texas A&M to get this initiative done, but that was founded a while ago.”
Kram said the university has taken steps in the past to honor Gaines, such as including his portrait in a mural of inspirational people in the MSC prior to its renovation, but a statue would be able to permanently cement his legacy as an influential Texas legislator.
“I think a statue somewhere on campus commemorating his success and his accomplishments in life to not only the state of Texas but to Texas A&M University is a no-brainer,” Kram said.
Amber Briggs, former Gaines Initiative committee member and Class of 2011, said student support, financial backing and sustainability are necessary to make the statue a reality.
“When I was working on the project, the student support was incredible but definitely needed growth,” Briggs said. “Second, there needs to be money to support a proposal. When I met with campus leaders, they basically told me that they wouldn’t take anything seriously without seeing finances available to support a project. Finally, there needs to be efforts made to help the sustainability of the project.”
Briggs said while the statue is a great way to honor Gaines and the 12th Legislature, true steps to diversity require a change in the historical narrative of the United States.
“I think it’s really easy to say you want to diversify campus or pay tribute to minority leaders and pick one or two of the leaders that everyone is okay with,” Briggs said. “However, there are and have been many other black and other minority leaders throughout the history of our country. We need to know and learn about them, too — and not just during Black History Month.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *