Ad Unitatem: Toward Unity

June 27, 2024

As we survive through this hot Texas summer and hopefully enjoy a break from the hustle and bustle of the school year, parts of Founders Mall are being reimagined. If you look now, you will see the construction fences that signify years of preparation coming to fruition.

In 2020, Baylor’s Board of Regents commissioned a group (the Commission on Historic Campus Representations) to consider Baylor’s history with slavery and the Confederacy and to offer guidance regarding the physical representations on our campus. The report yielded many recommendations but perhaps the most significant concerned the Judge Baylor statue, which will remain in place, and the recommendation of a memorial to the enslaved who built Baylor’s original campus in Independence, Texas.

Over the next few months, we will add important context to the complete history of Judge Baylor and the other University founders, etching in stone their previously omitted enslaving history. We will remove the historical obelisks on either side of Judge Baylor now and incorporate that information into new stone blocks that will surround the statue. The result will be striking and historically accurate. But of course, for us to enjoy the beauty of what is to come, it will require a few months of construction fencing and dust.

We expect the earth work, stone setting, and landscaping surrounding the Judge Baylor statue to be completed by August so that when the Baylor Family returns to campus in the fall, visiting this area will be a new experience – bearing witness to a fuller history of this institution and calling each of us to love one another, living lives of reckoning, repentance, reconciliation and repair.

When the work around the Judge Baylor statue is complete, the next phase of construction on Founders Mall will start – the Memorial to Enslaved Persons.

This fall, construction will begin on what will be one of the most significant physical representations on Baylor’s campus for years to come. At the center of Founders Mall will be a memorial that bears witness to the history of racialized chattel slavery at Baylor and in Texas, but it will simultaneously bear witness to the material and spiritual freedom that we share in Christ. This tension is something that the entire Baylor community will be encouraged to engage with: to create new traditions, to lament together, and to imagine a renewed future together despite our complicated history.

So, pardon the disturbance, and know that what lies on the other side is a Baylor fully embracing its Christian commitments, as well as a Baylor committed to reckoning with its complex history, repenting of its sins, and reconciling with both God and humanity.