Campus Life

Aggie Student Leaders Renew Efforts To Recognize Senator’s Contributions To Education, Texas A&M

Student-led effort to raise money for a statue of Matthew Gaines kicks off.
By Texas A&M University Division of Student Affairs Staff February 13, 2019

Matthew Gaines text graphic

Texas A&M University students are joining together to raise awareness and funds to place a statue honoring Matthew Gaines and the 12th Texas Legislature on the College Station campus.

Gaines, an African-American state senator and former slave who represented Washington County, was a courageous leader and instrumental in the 12th Texas Legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 276, which led to the creation of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas under the Land Grant College Act of 1862.

Last fall, members from the Student Government Association, the Black Student Alliance Council, and other student organizations worked diligently on a fundraising campaign for the statue.

With support from the Division of Student Affairs, students formed the Matthew Gaines Task Force to lead the effort. This spring the task force is directing its efforts on student awareness of Gaines’ achievements. It is also working closely with the Texas A&M Foundation to identify potential donors to generate an estimated $350,000 to construct and maintain the statue.

Students hope to raise the necessary funds by the end of 2019, at which time the internal process will begin to identify the statue’s artist and permanent location. The proposed timeline calls for the unveiling of the statue in fall 2020.

Matthew Gaines.
Matthew Gaines.

Several Decades in the Making

The momentum to recognize Gaines and the work of the 12th Legislature as instrumental in the establishment of Texas A&M has been a topic of conversation since the early 1990s. At that time, students formed a Matthew Gaines Committee with support from numerous faculty members, the Aggie Republicans, the university’s Black Former Student Network, the Aggie Democrats, The Battalion, and a number of other student groups.

Students renewed efforts in the early 2000s; however, momentum to place a statue of Gaines on campus began to build again in recent years. In spring 2018, Gentill Abdullah, a Texas A&M student senator and former president of the Black Student Alliance Council, introduced the Matthew Gaines Commemoration Bill. Following its passage, the Graduate & Professional Student Council General Assembly and the Residence Hall Association each passed similar resolutions.

To learn more about the student effort to recognize Sen. Matthew Gaines and the 12th Texas Legislature, contact Erica Pauls, president of the Matthew Gaines Task Force at or 361-815-0014.

For individuals, companies, and/or other entities interested in contributing a major gift toward the project, contact Matt Jennings, senior director of development for the Texas A&M Foundation, at 979-845-7604 or

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