Matthew Gaines, a former slave and first African American Senator from Washington County, spent his life fighting for public education, prison reform, and the protection of black voters. Gaines was born on a slave plantation in Louisiana and attempted to escape slavery twice in his life. His first attempt was when he was ten years old and he succeeded his second time when he used a false pass at the age of twenty three. After the Civil War, Matthew Gaines moved to Burton, Texas where he was elected to be the senator of the 16th district in Texas. During his time as Senator, he fought for the rights of African Americans and was at the forefront of multiple movements. With his support, the first public school system was established in Texas. Matthew Gaines' love for his community and passion for education inspired others and his legacy will now live on through his statue at Texas A&M.
Matthew Gaines Connection to TAMU:
Senator Matthew Gaines’ efforts to support education for all can be directly tied to the creation of Texas A&M University. In 1862, Gaines played an incredibly important role in aiding the Texas Legislature to utilize the Land-Grant College Act. This Act gave Texas land to finance a college that focused on “Agricultural and Mechanical arts,” thus resulting in the creation of Texas A&M University. Since the 1990s, student groups, including the university’s Black Former Student Association, and numerous faculty members have been persistently striving to recognize Gaines’ contributions to our school. Now, after 30 years of effort, Gaines has finally received the acknowledgment he deserves. On November 19 at 3 p.m. a statue between the Memorial Student Center and the Student Services Building of Gaines was erected. This well deserved new addition to campus will fill in a missing piece of TAMUs history. “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,’” Matthew Etchells, Graduate and Professional Student Council president.
- The life expectancy for black men living in America has dropped by 2.9 years. In comparison, White Americans’ life expectancy dropped by 1.2 years and Hispanic Americans by 3 years.
- After a year and a half, the U.S. lifted the travel ban on November 8th. People from the 33 countries that were prohibited to enter the country are now allowed to be with their loved ones. By being fully vaccinated and having a negative Covid test, travelers are now accepted into the U.S. and can reconnect with their family and friends.