Saturday’s unveiling of the Texas African American History Memorial at the Capitol could have been a somber occasion – a reflection on centuries of slavery and legalized oppression. Instead, it was a moment of rejoicing for the hundreds of guests, who celebrated how so many had overcome deep struggles and how the event appealed to a better future.
State officials and other special guests, including benefactors, revealed the memorial on the south lawn of the Capitol, a feat that comes more than two decades after lawmakers first pushed for the bronze and granite monument to African-Americans in Texas.
“This has not been an easy journey,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a former member of the Texas House who helped secure funding for the memorial. “And I’m not referring to the raising of money or to the construction of this monument. I am talking about the history of African-Americans of the state of Texas and where we are today.”
Turner said that while many often focus on current struggles, it’s important to look back and see how far the state and its residents have come.
The journey “began a long time ago in this state. And look at where we are today. I think that speaks volumes.”
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.
Read more ...