Monumental memorial makes history with Austin unveiling
History was made on November 19 with the unveiling of the first monument dedicated to African-Americans at the Texas State Capitol.
The Texas African-American History Memorial is an artistic representation of Juneteenth, the day slaves across Texas and the South were emancipated (June 19, 1865). The sculpture, located on the south lawn, also depicts African-Americans' momentous contributions to the state's cattle, cotton, and oil industries.
"Today we come together to proudly honor the African-Americans who helped to grow Texas from the bounty of our land, from the sweat of their toil, from the aspirations and the passions of their dreams," Gov. Greg Abbott said at the ceremony.
"May this monument be a reminder of the profound way that Texas has been advanced by African-Americans. And may that torch of freedom atop that monument light the way for all of us as we continue to make Texas the beacon of opportunity for everyone in this state from every race and every color."
The creation of the monument began in 1993, when former President George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, approved its funding. The memorial, although long overdue, was not without controversy. A "White Lives Matter" group gathered at the Texas State Capitol on Saturday, which in turn drew a counter protest.
"This has not been an easy journey," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "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."
The Texas African-American History Memorial Foundation has raised $2.9 million for the construction, maintenance, and dedication of the memorial. The 27-foot high, 32-foot wide monument will be the last monument erected on the south lawn.