About this Exhibit
Photo courtesy of the family of J. Mason Brewer (Gladys Brewer Miles and Minnie M. Miles)
Much of the information featured in this exhibit most certainly would not have been available if it were not for research performed almost 70 years ago by Dr. J. Mason Brewer—folklorist, poet, historian, scholar, and educator—the African-American pioneer of research on Texas's early African-American politicians. In 1935, Dr. Brewer wrote the book Negro Legislators of Texas. For two years, he probed archives and conducted personal interviews with any descendants who could be found. He aspired to record an accurate account of the contributions these forgotten men had made to the State of Texas during a perilous period in history. Since Brewer's publication, other books and articles have been written in relation to and including this subject. His niece, Minnie M. Miles, co-wrote this exhibit. Her background in museums and her interest in history proved invaluable in telling this important story.
Many other noted Texas historians have continued researching the fascinating lives of these important Texans, and their research was instrumental in completing this exhibit. These historians, including Alwyn Barr, Barry Crouch, Merline Pitre, and David Williams, have ensured that additional information continues to be published about the African-American people who have lived and worked in Texas.
The State Preservation Board coordinated the production of this exhibit, originally presented in the Capitol's ground floor rotunda during February of 1997. It was exhibited in the Capitol Complex Visitors Center from July of 1997 through February of 1998. The web presentation was coordinated by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and was launched in May 2002.