Campus News

What Aggieland Gained

After almost 30 years of advocacy, activist Matthew Gaines is memorialized in a bronze statue at the heart of Texas A&M University.

    By Bec Morris '23
  • Photo provided by the Texas A&M Division of Marketing and Communications
  • May. 16, 2022
    2 min read

One hundred and twenty-one years after his death, former state senator and activist Matthew Gaines now stands memorialized in bronze at the heart of Texas A&M University. His sculpture is the result of almost 30 years of advocacy by university administrators, faculty, current and former students and the Matthew Gaines Society to recognize his contributions to the university.

“Every student who walks this campus should be able to see themselves and their aspirations in the historic icons on campus,” said Bill Mahomes ’69, Texas A&M Board of Regents vice chairman. “Who better for us to look up to than Sen. Matthew Gaines?”

As the first Black senator from Washington County, Gaines, a former slave, worked to ensure Texas took full advantage of the Morrill Act of 1862, supporting the creation of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. However, the university did not admit Black students until 1963.

Now, many of Gaines’ descendants are current and former students, obtaining the higher education he fought to establish. One of these Aggies, Mason Alexander-Hawk ’20 ’24, Gaines’ great-great-great-granddaughter and Matthew Gaines Society vice president, advocated for the memorial honoring her ancestor’s dedication to civil rights, education and freedom.

“In my eyes, he is a perfect example of public service: the unadulterated commitment to making a difference in the lives of others regardless of how it impacts you,” Alexander-Hawk said.

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