Forever Free: Nineteenth Century African-American Legislators and Constitutional Convention Delegates of Texas

From the State Preservation Board and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Main photo

The old Texas Capitol (1853-1881) was the setting for historic drama when African-Americans, most of them recently freed from slavery, took office as leaders of the Lone Star State.

All images of the legislators and delegates, State Preservation Board. Capitol photo from the Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives.


Fifty-two African-American men served Texas as either state legislative members or Constitutional Convention delegates during the last half of the 19th century, representing the first significant political achievement by the African-American citizens of this state. They were elected more than one hundred years ago amidst the commonly-held belief of whites at that time that African-Americans were inferior subordinates whose absorption into society as free people — or "forever free" as proclaimed by President Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation — would lead to the breakdown of civilization. By learning about these men and the social and political environment in which they were elected and held office, we can come to understand and appreciate the breadth of their individual achievements.

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About this exhibit

Black Legislators Monument at the Texas State Cemetery


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Page last modified: November 16, 2011