Big news at the Texas Capitol in Austin on Tuesday: A bronze and granite monument celebrating more than 400 years of achievements by Black Americans began to be installed on the south lawn, reports the Texas Tribune. The 27-foot-high, 32-foot-long memorial is near the Capitol’s main entrance, and installation will be complete by mid-October.
For six years, Ed Dwight – a Denver-based artist – designed the sculpture, which depicts 48 slaves and emancipation and contributions Black Texans made to the state’s cattle, cotton, and oil industries. The Tribune reports that the State Preservation Board will host an unveiling in the fall. Dwight also designed the African American monument at the South Carolina Capitol, unveiled in 2001.
According to the Tribune, “Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, the chairwoman of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, said the Texas monument is the culmination of many years of hard work — and $3 million — to celebrate Black Texans at the Capitol. The Texas African-American History Memorial Foundation, created for the development and construction of monument, raised some of the funds for the project. The state approved $1.5 million last year to complete construction.”
Why didn’t we know sooner about the new monument in the heart one of the most impactful states in the U.S.? It went mostly unpublicized: “‘Even the faint possibility that something could go wrong’ scared lawmakers,” Dwight told the Tribune.
Confederate tributes abound on the Capitol grounds. The people have spoken through lawmakers, allocating the funds to commission the Black memorial. The fall unveiling will be cause to celebrate and a sign of goodwill in a time of re-surfacing national discord on race relations.
Post-Publication Update: On Oct. 7, The Texas Legislative Black Caucus alerted media that it would announce the unveiling date for the Texas African American History Memorial at 10 a.m. on Oct. 11. The Caucus also planned to announce a schedule of events planned in celebration of the unveiling ceremony.