Celebrating Black History Month in Aggieland
By Gwen Howerton, Office of Undergraduate Studies
Black History Month is a time to acknowledge the accomplishments, contributions, and legacy of Black Americans to our collective history. Aggieland is host to a variety of Black-owned business, student organizations, and pieces of history to experience—making it a great place to join the celebration of Black History Month. Use this list as a starting point when celebrating Black History Month in Aggieland.
Visit These Places
Brazos Valley African American MuseumThe Brazos Valley African American Museum was built on the historical site of one of the original Black schools in the Brazos Valley, Bryan Public School for Colored. The Brazos Valley African American Museum was officially recognized in 1999 and opened its doors to the public in 2006. The museum aims to preserve, explore and present the rich history and culture of African Americans in the Brazos Valley. Past exhibits have explored influential African Americans and their place in the history of the valley, sports exhibits, and events celebrating the 150th anniversary of Bryan, Texas. For more information on hours, events and more, visit the BVVAM website.
During Black History Month, Cushing Memorial Library is hosting an exhibit on the March on Washington, as well as year-round collections such as the Africana Studies Collection and the Don Kelly Research Collection. These collections showcase things like historical photographs, documents chronicling slavery and emancipation, and comic books with Black super heroes. In the first-floor lobby, visitors can view a display on Black health and wellness, the theme of Black History Month 2022. Black health and wellness emphasizes both Black scholars and doctors as well as traditional and tribal medicine from ancient African history. In the second-floor reading room, Cushing Library presents rare selections of books and manuscripts from several different collections. Undergraduate Studies had the privilege of interviewing Professor Rebecca Hankins, one of the archivists at Cushing working to make the collections more inclusive of underrepresented groups. Read more about Professor Hankins’ career.
Cushing Library Collections
Matthew Gaines, born August 4th, 1840, was a former slave who became a Baptist preacher and later a state senator for the 16th District of the Texas Legislature during Reconstruction. During his time as a senator, Gaines advocated fiercely for the rights of freedmen and was a staunch supporter of education. During Gaines’ time in the Legislature, the U.S. Congress passed the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, which provided grants of land to states interested in establishing colleges specializing in agricultural and mechanical education. Gaines pushed the legislature to take full advantage of the Land-Grant Act, and his leadership was instrumental to the establishment of Texas A&M University. After advocacy from the Matthew Gaines Society, a group of students and community members interested in Gaines’ legacy, Texas A&M announced a competition for artists to commission a statue of Gaines in 2020, and the statue was completed and unveiled in 2021. Students can now view the statue of Gaines on the Yolanda and Jimmy ’65 Janacek Plaza outside the Memorial Student center.
Senator Matthew Gaines statue on the Yolanda and Jimmy ’65 Janacek Plaza
Black Student Alliance CouncilEstablished in 2004, Black Student Alliance Council works to highlight the achievements, accomplishments and needs of Black Aggies. BSAC will be running events all this month. Follow them on Twitter @tamu_bsac and Instagram at bsactamu. For more information, visit the Black Student Alliance Council website.
MSC WBACEstablished in 1970 as the Black Awareness Committee (BAC), the Carter G. Woodson Black Awareness Committee (MSC WBAC) “enhances the understanding of the culture, contributions, and impact on society of people of African descent” by offering educational and community-building programs for the Texas A&M student body. One of WBAC’s marquee programs is the annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast, an event hosting keynote speakers dedicated to the continuation of Dr. King’s legacy. Follow MSC WBAC on Instagram @msc_wbac and read more about their history at wbac.tamu.edu.
Black Graduate Student AllianceFounded in 1989, the Black Graduate Student Alliance works to increase the number of graduate and post-graduate Black students, provides resources for graduate and professional students, and offers networking opportunities for Black graduate and post-graduate students. Find BGSA online or on Twitter @TAMUBGSA or Instagram @tamubgsa.
Aggie Black Male ConnectionAggie Black Male Connection offers community for black men at Texas A&M to come together in brotherhood, offering networking and leadership opportunities. Follow them on Twitter @TAMUABMC and Instagram @togetherweriseabmc.
ExCELExcellence uniting Culture, Education and Leadership (ExCEL) is a first-year mentorship program for Black Aggies at Texas A&M. ExCEL offers opportunities for students to engage with the Black Aggie community through their mid-August conference before school starts. Find ExCEL on Twitter @TAMUExCEL, or at excel.tamu.edu.
TAMU NAACPTAMU NAACP is a student organization for any students interested in social activism. TAMU NAACP is a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and offers educational resources, voter registration drives, and more. Check them out on social media @TAMUNAACP.
Support Local, Black-Owned Restaurants
Lamar & Niki’s Pit BBQ & Soul Food Café
2516 Texas Avenue, Bryan, TX
Fargo’s Pit BBQ
1701 South Texas Avenue, Bryan, TX
Remnant of Nawlins
1416 Groesbeck Street, Bryan, TX
BCS Chocolate Gallery
211 North Main Street, Bryan, TX
Honey’s Favored Sweets & Eats
5809 Highway 21, Bryan, TX – (Inside Halftime Bar & Grill)
Various locations & events throughout the community
Krab Kingz at Southerns
1500 Harvey Road College Station, TX 77840
(This list does not represent every Black-owned restaurant in the Bryan-College Station area.)
Read Books on Black History
“Go Tell It on The Mountain” by James Baldwin – Written in 1953, Baldwin’s story of a teenager navigating his relationship with his family and his church in 1930s Harlem is considered one of the best English-language novels of the 20th century, and is considered a seminal Black story.
“Southern Black Women in the Modern Civil Rights Movement” by Bruce A. Glasrud & Merline Pitre – Published by Texas A&M University Press, Glasrud & Pitre discuss the pivotal roles that Black women held in the Civil Rights Movement, from protesting in the streets to leading national organizations. The authors work to uncover the often ignored, but crucial work Black women contributed to the successes of the Civil Rights Movement.
“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander – Published in 2010 by civil rights advocate and writer Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow examines racial and socio-economic disparities in the criminal justice system. It has been the winner of the NAACP Image Award and has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
“Mules and Men” by Zora Neale Hurston – Best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, Mules and Men is a 1935 collection of Black folklore collected during Hurston’s trip to her home of Eatonville, Florida. Hurston, an educated anthropologist, compiled stories, urban legends and folk-sayings during her travels throughout the South to form what has become an influential oral history of Black American culture.
Media contact: Anna Transue, email@example.com