Home

Welcome to “Race and Reconciliation at Sam.” This project aims to document, explain, and share the role that enslaved people and their descendants have played in the development of Sam Houston State University. The scholars participating in this project anticipate a multi-year process that will include the creation of a website, historical markers, archival collections, art exhibits, and commemorative events.

Austin Hall – At Sam Houston State University

  • Aug 1849 – Rev. Daniel D. Baker gets approval for Presbyterian College; $8,000 pledged in Huntsville.
  • Sep 26, 1849 – John Stamps sold 6 acres & brick yard to David Conner for $93. Deed Book C, 100-101.
  • Oct 1849 – Henderson Yoakum drafted college charter; Baker presented at Presbytery near Independence. 
  • Nov 1849 – Legislature approved and Governor Wood signed College Charter for Austin College
  • April 1850 – Austin College Board gathered in Huntsville for first meeting. “Capitol Hill,” site selected.
  • Aug 1850 – Executive Committee of Austin College contracted with William M. Barrett for building.
  • Dec 1850 – Barrett contracted with Samuel Reed to do “brickwork of Austin College” for $750.00
  • 1851 – Executive Committee “purchased of Messers. Conner and Royal three hundred thousand bricks”
  • June 1851- Austin College Treasurer’s Report: Board paid Conner and Royal $1740 and $554.20 for bricks. Austin College Treasurer’s Report (June 1, 1851) (page 15)
  • June 24, 1851 – cornerstone laid for the Austin College Building
  • In Fall 1852 – classes began in the Austin College Building; building not complete.
  • Sept 10, 1852, David Conner died; Daniel A Conner of Fort Bend County executor of his will.

About

In November 2022, the American Historical Association’s monthly magazine, Perspectives on History, examined the national conversation on African American slavery and U.S. universities. For almost two decades, the editors pointed out, universities around the country have been documenting the role that enslaved people and their descendants played in the construction and development of U.S. institutions. Brown University launched the first project on this subject in 2003, but the effort has since been coordinated by the University of Virginia’s project on “Slavery and the University.” Today, the program includes dozens of schools around the country, including Georgetown, Penn, and William and Mary. Recently, many universities in Texas have also joined the effort. Rice University’s “Task Force on Slavery, Segregation, and Racial Injustice,” Texas Christian University’s “Race & Reconciliation Initiative,” and Prairie View A&M’s “African American Slavery Initiative” represent a few of the leading programs in Texas. 

This research cluster seeks to establish a new “Initiative on Slavery, Race, and Reconciliation” at SHSU. We anticipate a multi-year process that will include the creation of a website, historical markers, archival collections, art exhibits, and commemorative events. The aim is to document and communicate the continued significance of the role that enslaved people and their descendants played in the development of SHSU. In addition, we will trace the contributions that Black staff, faculty, and students have made at SHSU. And, finally, we will seek to promote racial reconciliation by engaging in formal acts of truth-telling and conflict resolution. 

SHSU has an important role to play in the “Slavery and the University” project. For starters, the university is home to Austin Hall — originally Austin College — which is one of the oldest buildings on a public university campus in Texas. Constructed between 1849 and 1852, Austin College was a Presbyterian school founded by Daniel Baker and Huntsville residents, including Henderson Yoakum, Sam Houston, and Robert Smither. William Barrett oversaw construction of the college and purchased 300,000 bricks that were fashioned by enslaved African Americans living in Huntsville. The story of these enslaved people has never been related to the local community, but we intend to share their story and return them to the narrative. 

SHSU has also been a crucial site in the debate over interracial cooperation, university desegregation, and the development of ethnic studies programming. Over the long term, we plan to develop programming, exhibits, and historical markers on these topics as well. This aspect of the project will help to bridge SHSU’s past and present, allowing for informed discussion of the present significance of the historical realities that are the main focus of this project.

Beginning in January 2023, we will plan programming at the university level to inform our colleagues, students, and the broader community about the role that enslaved people and their descendants have played at SHSU. Our research cluster will:

1) Develop a website to host our mission statement, project details, findings, etc.

2) Deliver a Black History Month Presentation on Slavery and Austin College in February 2023.

3) Deliver a workshop at the SHSU Diversity Leadership Conference on February 24, 2023.

4) Secure approval for a university-level committee to continue work on this topic.

5) Identify and establish contact with past staff, faculty, and students for interviews/photographs.

6) Identify documents, images, interviews, appropriate for website and public display.

7) Work with the Department of Art to develop an exhibit on Slavery, Segregation, and SHSU.

In the long term, we intend to create a permanent archival collection containing materials on slavery, desegregation, and civil rights at SHSU. We also intend to present on our findings at the Texas State Historical Association’s annual meeting in 2024. And, finally, we would like to issue a final report on SHSU and its history with slavery, segregation, civil rights, and racial justice.

Blog

Welcome to Race and Reconciliation at Sam.

This website and corresponding blog will be used to document, explain, and share the role that enslaved people and their descendants have played in the development of Sam Houston State University. The scholars participating in this project anticipate a multi-year process that will include the creation of a website, historical markers, archival collections, art exhibits, …

Contact

This is a page with some basic contact information, such as an address and phone number. You might also try a plugin to add a contact form.