Gov. Greg Abbott and members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus dedicated a monument at the Capitol Saturday morning honoring the contributions of African-Americans.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Saturday’s unveiling ensures the recognition of moments in Texas history that have not been fully acknowledged.
“To know where we are going in life, we have to understand where it is that we have come from. The triumphs, the tragedies, the lessons that we learn along the way,” he said. “They are a legacy for the generations that are to come forward in the future. But chapters have been missing from the story of Texas. That changes today.”
The monument on the Capitol’s south lawn highlights the African-American experience in Texas from the 1500s to slavery and emancipation to more modern achievements in the arts and sciences.
The 27-foot high, 32-foot wide monument depicts Juneteenth – June 19, 1865 – when hundreds of Union troops arrived in Texas and announced the freedom of slaves in the U.S., along with major social, political and cultural icons in the state from years later. The structure also portrays the cattle, cotton and oil industries and black Texans’ role in advancing them. Ed Dwight, a Denver-based sculptor, proposed the monument to mark the history of black people in Texas, a history that pre-dates the United States.
Dwight had three jobs, said Bill Jones, chairman of the Texas African American History Memorial Foundation: create a memorial that is historically accurate, aesthetically pleasing and has emotional impact.
“He has done all three,” Jones said. “And he has done so beautifully. What he has created will walk you through Texas history, that will include the contributions of Africans and African-Americans to this state’s rich past.”
In the last four centuries, black men and women in Texas endured slavery, a civil war and segregation – a history that sometimes overshadows the community’s contributions to politics, science and the economic powerhouse that the state has become.