Gilbert and Walker Statues
The late Rev. Robert Gilbert, B.A. ’67, and Mrs. Barbara Walker, B.A. ’67, are two remarkable Baylor alumni who broke the barriers of segregation on the Baylor campus and left the University to live as leaders and servants in our world. On June 2, 1967, Gilbert and Walker became the first Black students to earn undergraduate degrees from Baylor, receiving their diplomas in alphabetical order during the same commencement ceremony.
Earning degrees from Baylor opened doors to Gilbert and Walker that likely would have otherwise remained closed to them. Even more profound are the doors their courage opened to all the students of color who today call Baylor home.
The presence of Rev. Gilbert’s and Mrs. Walker’s statues in front of the historic Tidwell Bible Building contributes to a more complete telling of the Baylor story, and they create a highly visible message that all members of the Baylor Family are valued in fulfillment of the University’s Christian mission.
The late Rev. Gilbert — an influential educator, pastor and civil rights leader in the Waco area — graduated from Baylor in 1967 with a B.A. in history.
Baylor’s first Black female graduate, Barbara Walker earned a B.A. in sociology in 1967 and worked for 32 years as a licensed clinical social worker.
On April 4, 2023, Baylor University will dedicate two statues commemorating the late Rev. Robert Gilbert and Mrs. Barbara Walker – the first Black students to earn undergraduate degrees from the University.
Ben Victor is the only living artist to have three works in the National Statuary Hall. His passion and emphasis on storytelling, particularly for historically underrepresented groups, made him the ideal sculptor for the Gilbert and Walker statues.
WACO, Texas (April 4, 2023) – Before a celebratory crowd in front of the iconic Tidwell Bible Building, Baylor University today unveiled and dedicated statues honoring the University’s first Black graduates, the late Rev. Robert L. Gilbert, B.A. ’67, and Barbara A. Walker, B.A. ’67.
Idaho-based sculptor Benjamin Victor was selected to create bronze life-sized statues of Robert Gilbert, B.A. ’67, and Barbara Walker, B.A. ’67 — Baylor’s first Black graduates. Victor was chosen through a competitive process in conjunction with Walker, the Gilbert family and Baylor’s Campus Experience Project Team, which is working through recommendations from the University’s Commission on Historic Campus Representations.
WACO, Texas (July 1, 2021) – Baylor University is seeking artists and foundries to create life-sized bronze statues of the University’s first Black graduates – the Rev. Robert Gilbert, B.A. ’67, and Mrs. Barbara Walker, B.A. ’67. The statues will ultimately reside in front of Baylor’s historic Tidwell Bible Building.
WACO, Texas (March 23, 2021) – Baylor University today released the full independent and unedited report of the 26-member Commission on Historic Campus Representations, which was charged by the Baylor Board of Regents with independently reviewing and evaluating the historical record and context of the University and its early leaders solely related to slavery and the Confederacy.