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'Remember history rightly': Baylor unveils monument to first Black graduates

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Posted at 7:01 PM, Apr 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-04 20:05:43-04

WACO, Texas — Baylor University unveiled two statues in honor of its first Black graduates on Tuesday afternoon.

The statues, located in front of Tidwell Bible Building, depict Barbara Walker and the late Rev. Robert Gilbert.

Both Walker and Gilbert graduated from the university in 1967.

Gilbert's son, Dr. Kenyatta Gilbert, spoke on his father's behalf during the dedication ceremony.

"The university has said, by way of this act, that it chooses to remember history rightly for generations of coming students," Gilbert said.

The unveiling comes as a part of Baylor's movement to improve its recognition of history and better highlight stories of people of color who helped shape the university. The initiative is led by the Commission on Historic Representations, established by the board of regents in 2020.

Walker returned to her alma mater on Tuesday to dedicate her statue to her mother, who she said had a dream of attending college but was never able to.

"In her being able to do what she did for me, I feel like we both graduated from Baylor, and I just thank you," Walker said.

After graduating from the university, Walker went on to lead mental health programs for the state of California.

Gilbert became the first Black Waco ISD trustee.

The university commissioned artist Benjamin Victor to creat the statues.

"We can look up to them as leaders and heroes in academic life here," Victor said.

"It's just gonna be something that's gonna continue on as a legacy forever."