RESI Race & Space Tour
Explore the complex history of Texas A&M. This tour is designed to provide new insights into some of the university’s most prolific spaces.
Find out additional information regarding the tour here.
Texas A&M University was founded on land expropriated from Indigenous people. These original homelands are the territory of Indigenous peoples who were largely dispossessed and removed. Texas A&M is, specifically, situated on land that was traditionally stewarded by the Tonkawa, Tawakoni, Hueco, Sana, Wichita, and Coahuiltecan peoples. By beginning with this acknowledgment, we affirm the continuous presence and rights of the Indigenous; acknowledge the ongoing effects of settler colonization; and support Indigenous struggles for political, legal, and cultural sovereignty.
The Liberty Bell is an exceptional symbol of political and religious freedom. It represents the transformation of the United States of America and served as a rallying cry for abolitionists wishing to end slavery. Replicas of the Liberty Bell were issued to states and territories as gifts by the Department of Treasury. Most states chose to display them on state capitol grounds. However, past Texas governor, Allan Shivers, entrusted the state’s replica to Texas A&M, recognizing the commitment and contribution on behalf of the Aggies during World War II.
Lawrence Sullivan ‘Sul’ Ross Statue
Lawrence Sullivan Ross is recounted as a soldier, statesman, and knightly gentleman. He served as a Brigadier General in the Confederate States Army, Governor of Texas, and President of Texas A&M College. Ross is credited as the embodiment of the Aggie Spirit and his statue is a site of tradition. There is, however, limited reference to his military career in which he slayed “red men”, bluecoats, and “outlaws”. Ross’ statue was erected, with support from the United Daughters of the Confederacy: Sul Ross Chapter, the United Confederate Veterans, and the Texas Legislature.
The Corps of Cadets is one of the oldest student organizations at Texas A&M. It was founded as an exclusively all-white-male group. In the 1880s the Corps would gather and march down Military Walk, at the time a simple dirt road, towards the primary dining hall. Over time, this tradition ceased, and the walkway was updated to a narrow-paved road. The Corps, however, remained all-male and the transition to include both women and people of color was challenging. Today, the Corps is more diverse than ever, but discrimination persists.
James Earl Rudder served as a United States Army Major General, and Lieutenant Colonel and was the sixteenth president of Texas A&M. Rudder is considered a staple in the overall history of the university. Under his direction and in conjunction with Brown vs Board of Education A&M desegregated in 1963, an achievement that took six years to implement. In addition, Rudder spearheaded monumental change by pushing for the admission of women. His life-size bronze sculpture stands in front of Rudder Tower, anchoring the south end of Military Walk.
Matthew Gaines served as a Texas Senator, Baptist preacher and a Black community leader. Gaines fiercely pursued the rights and interests of African Americans. He was vigilant and a guardian, addressing issues in education, prison reform, voting rights, and the housing market. Gaines was instrumental in the passage of Senate Bill No. 274 which promoted a public education for all races and created the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, now Texas A&M. In November 2021, after 27 years of spirited campaigning, the Matthew Gaines Society was finally able to celebrate the unveiling of his statue.
The origin of the 12th Man dates to 1922, when an Aggie named E. King Gill was called to the sideline during the Dixie Classic. After suiting up, Gil stood ready to play throughout the entirety of the game. This demonstrates how at Texas A&M sports have become a ‘social glue’, bonding the university together. Sports, as a vehicle, transmit the values of unity, loyalty, and an Aggies willingness to serve. For students of color, participation and experiences of sport have been significantly different. As policies limited their academic involvement but supported their bodies as players.
The Essential Aggies
Since the beginning of Texas A&M there have been people entrusted to maintain the grounds, buildings, and food service operations. In the early years of the university, it was the ‘essential Aggies’ who were responsible for keeping it serviceable. There is little known about these workers, who were predominantly African American and Mexican, as their stories have been hidden from history. The barracks, including the Mess Hall, were often places in which they both lived and worked. In 1905 student waiters briefly replaced the ‘essential Aggies’, a change that came from the demands for a living wage.
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives
The Cushing Memorial Library and Archives houses rare books, special collections, manuscripts and the Texas A&M archives. It proudly serves and engages with visitors both within and outside the university. Cushing Library is a rare place on campus, housing resources and documentation of Black life in the United States like the Charles Criner Collection (contains artistic renderings for Juneteenth celebrations), the Slavery and Emancipation Documents (contains materials related to Texas’ involvement in chattel slavery), and KKK robes of individuals connected to Texas A&M, including football coach, Dana X. Bible.