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Making history: The unveiling of Texas African American History Memorial

The Dallas Examiner | 12/26/2016, 1:07 p.m. | Updated on 2/9/2017, 11:21 a.m.
To many, it was a glorious occasion. Several hundred people gathered on the lawn of the Texas State Capitol for ...
Three generations of local representatives from the House of Representatives pose together for a selfie during the celebration for the unveiling and dedication of the Texas African American History Memorial Monument on the Texas State Capitol South Lawn, Austin, Nov. 19. From left: former representatives Samuel W. Hudson and Dr. Zan Holmes and current Rep. Eric Johnson. S.W. Hudson

The Dallas Examiner

To many, it was a glorious occasion. Several hundred people gathered on the lawn of the Texas State Capitol for the unveiling of the Texas African American History Memorial on Nov. 19. It was a brisk cool day, and the sun kept everyone warm on the grounds of the Capitol of Texas.

Details about the monument that chronicles the struggles and triumphs of African Americans in Texas and artist who brought it to life were published in The Dallas Examiner on Nov. 17.

Rev Zan Holmes set the tone for the occasion with his opening prayer.

Gov. Gregg Abbott, who spoke during the ceremony, said we must condemn slavery and celebrate the contributions of African Americans who fought for Texas even before it was the state of Texas. He said that in order to know where we are going, we have to know where we came from. Abbott said that chapters have been missing in the story of Texas, and we must extend the opportunity of freedom to everyone.

Many came from all over the state for the occasion that so many had long awaited. Representing parts of Dallas was Rep. Eric Johnson of District 100, who has served in the Texas Legislature sine 2010. With him were Sam Hudson, who served for 24 years from 1973 to 1997, and Holmes, who served from 1968 to 1972. Holmes began his service after attorney Joseph Lockridge was killed in a plane crash in 1968. Lockridge was the first African American from Dallas to serve in the Texas Legislature.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, former state representative and chairman of the Texas Black Caucus, spoke passionately about the struggle to get the African American Monument on the Capitol grounds.

Afterword, Turner was presented with a special award by Demetrius McDaniel for his continuous support of the project and never giving up on making the monument a reality.

A Prayer of Thanks for the TAAHM Monument

This invocation was offered by the Honorable Dr. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr., former member of the Texas House of Representatives and pastor emeritus of St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church, during the Texas African American History Memorial dedication ceremony on the South Lawn of the Texas Capitol, Nov. 19.

O God of justice and mercy,

We turn to you in prayer on this occasion because we know what kind of God you are. You are the same God who brought us all the way from the alleys to paved boulevards. You are the same God who brought us all the way from croaker sack to silk. You are the same God who brought us all the way from overalls to three-piece suits. You are the same God who brought us all the way from neck bones to T-bones. You are the same God who brought us all the way from chitterlings to caviar. You are the same God who brought us all the way from the back of the bus to the front of the bus to owners of the bus. You are the same God who brought us all the way from slave ships to cruise ships. You are the same God who brought us all the way from the outhouse to the White House … not once, but twice.

So we give you thanks for this significant and historical occasion which brings us together to give You thanks for the African American Historical Memorial … Indeed, it serves to remind us that our Forefathers and Foremothers have labored before us, and we have inherited the fruits of their labor. Trees that we did not plant have provided shade for us in the noon day heat … Bridges that we did not build have carried us over many a troubled sea … Songs that we did not write have comforted and cheered us on in our times of despair … Lamps that we did not light have brightened our pathway in the darkness of the night … Truths that we did not discover have enlightened our minds … Prayers that we did not pray have encouraged our souls where we were tempted to give up.

In times like these, forgive us and save us from the passivity that will not seek the truth, the prejudice that cannot see the truth, the pride that will not acknowledge the truth, and the paralysis, which will not let us do the truth. Defend our liberties, increase and preserve our unity, and ever help us to stand together for everything good, noble and true, lest we fall for anything

as we go forth to face the brand new future that God is ever offering us.

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half truths and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom, and peace for all.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out hands to comfort them, and to turn their pain into joy.

And May God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can do together what others claim cannot be done

Finally, ever give us a public sense of discontent with things as they are, and may our theme song be the song of our Forefathers and Foremothers.

“We’re pressing on the upward way, new heights we’re gaining every day, still praying as we onward bound. Lord plant our feet on higher ground.”

In the name of the One God who created us all!

Hallelujah and amen!