Welcome to day 10 of Black History month. Today I would like to turn your attention to someone who made contributions to establishing free public education for blacks. Matthew Gaines was a community leader and a minister.
Gaines was born on August 4, 1840 in Pineville, Louisiana. He was born a slave. He learned to read by candlelight. Books were sneaked to him by a young white boy.
Twice, Gaines attempted to escape slavery, but he was caught both times, and sent back to slavery. He worked as a blacksmith, and a sheepherder.
He settled in Burton, Washington county after the emancipation, and that is when he became a leader of the black community. He was elected as a senator during the reconstruction. He represented the 16th district in the Texas legislature.
He sponsored a bill that would work towards educational improvement for the black movement, and exempting organizations from taxation. On June 12, 1871, the bill became a law.
Gaines was concerned about blacks’ protection from mobs when exercising the 15th amendment. He also felt that a difference could be made with blacks at the polls. That is how the Militia Bill came about, and it was successful, but Gaines was not able to gain support to elect a black Texan to the House of Representatives.
He was elected to a six year term in the senate, but served only four years because he was convicted on the charge of bigamy in 1873. That conviction caused his seat to be challenged. The charge was overturned, and he was re-elected.
Gaines stayed active in politics, and expressed his political views at gatherings, conventions, and from his pulpit.
Gaines died on June 11, 1900 in Giddings Texas.