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Aggies reflect on journey to build Senator Matthew Gaines statue on campus

The statue will be unveiled in Fall 2021. It will be on display in a grass area in front of the Student Services Building on campus.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A statue to honor Sen. Matthew Gaines on Texas A&M University's campus nears completion, after decades of trying to get one built.

"The statue means a lot of things," said Elizabeth Barnes, the vice president of the Matthew Gaines Society. "Not only is it important to bring to light what he did, but it also shows to future students that you can do whatever you want here when you come to A&M."

The Matthew Gaines Society, formerly known as the Matthew Gaines Initiative, was created in 2017. The group's focus was to highlight Gaines’ contributions to the University and raise funds to get a statue of him built. Barnes said similar initiatives date back to the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Gaines was the first African-American state senator from Washington County. He helped create legislation to make it possible for agriculture and mechanical colleges, such as Texas A&M, to exist

The Matthew Gaines Society was able to raise $350,000 in Summer 2020 to build the statue. Monetary donations from the community, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and former Texas A&M University President Michael Young made it all possible. 

“It’s not just the work of a few students and only those few students who want it, everybody wants it on campus," Barnes said. "It’s a great feeling everyone appreciates your work.” 

Barnes, who will be graduating in Spring 2021, has been with the organization since it was created. She is proud of the work the Matthew Gaines Society has been able to accomplish in the past three and a half years. 

“When you come to campus, everybody talks about being a part of that Aggie network. It makes me feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself," Barnes said.

The statue will be unveiled in Fall 2021. It will be on display in a grass area in front of the Student Services Building on campus. Two artists have been selected and commissioned to create a design.

While not many other details can be revealed at the moment, Barnes does know there will be a lot of emotions when she sees the statue at the unveiling. 

"It’s really rewarding, not only for myself but I feel like I speak for everyone in the Society, knowing we worked towards this and so many people will appreciate it," Barnes said. "It is beyond words.” 

Barnes credits the work of the Aggies before her who also made similar attempts to build a statue of Gaines. 

“It’s a big celebration of joy that all of our hard work has come to fruition," Barnes said.

The Matthew Gaines Society's work is not over. They will continue raising money for student scholarships, awards and create more events highlighting Gaines. 

For ways to help support the Society, click HERE.