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Monumental Role

Some of the topics we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

The massive Texas African American History Memorial on the Capitol grounds honors African-Americans’ contributions to the state’s history over 400 years. The monument, with its breathtaking detail of dozens of people, was unveiled in November. … Also breathtaking is the wide variety of birds likely to be spotted at the Laredo Birding Festival. … Handheld calculators were a big deal when they first appeared in schools and homes. Remember that? Let’s see: 2017 minus 1967 equals 50. That’s how many years it’s been.

African-American History Monument Unveiled

The Texas African American History Memorial became the 21st monument on the Texas Capitol grounds when it was unveiled November 19, 2016.

The 27-foot-high, 32-foot-wide monument portrays Juneteenth—June 19, 1865— when slaves in Texas learned they were free. It honors African-Americans’ contributions to Texas society and culture, and their roles in the cattle, cotton and oil industries.

“To know where we are going in life, we have to understand where it is that we have come from: the triumphs, the tragedies, the lessons that we learn along the way,” Gov. Greg Abbott said during the unveiling ceremony. “They are a legacy for the generations that are to come forward in the future. But chapters have been missing from the story of Texas. That changes today.”

Denver sculptor Ed Dwight created the bronze and granite monument, which stands just inside the south entrance to the Capitol grounds.

Birds on the Border

Nearly 650 varieties of birds have been sighted in Texas, second most in the U.S. to California. They won’t all be spotted during the laredo birding festival, February 8–11, but nearly 200 species have been identified around the border city.

The festival, hosted by the Rio Grande International Study Center, features workshops, talks and film screenings. The main attractions, though, are day-long field trips escorted by professional field guides and members of the Monte Mucho Audubon Society. These offer opportunities to spot white-collared seedeaters, scaled quails, gray hawks, Audubon’s and Altamira orioles, green parakeets, Muscovy ducks, red-billed pigeons, clay-colored thrushes and flocks more.

Laredo is considered the only place in the U.S. to have boasted four species of kingfisher: ringed, belted, green and Amazon. Call (956) 718-1063 for more information, or visit

Go Figure

Students and office workers have a team of Texas engineers to thank for 50 years of miniaturized math.

In 1967, innovators at Texas Instruments in Dallas unveiled the Cal-Tech—the first-ever handheld calculator—a vessel to show off the company’s pioneering, tiny, integrated circuits they hoped would replace giant, transistor-based machines, such as the 55-pound calculators of the day.

The 4-by-6-inch device weighing less than 3 pounds could add, subtract, multiply and divide six-digit numbers using 18 keys and a 12-digit thermal printer.

Nowadays, you’re more likely to find a calculator on your phone than on your desk.

Mark Your Calendar

February 9 is day No. 40 of 2017. Impress your friends by telling them that “forty” is the only English word for a number with its letters in alphabetical order.

Future Governor Is Born

February 27 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of John B. Connally Jr., the 39th governor of Texas. He was born on a farm near Floresville.

Connally was riding in the limo with President John F. Kennedy in Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated. Connally was seriously wounded by the gunfire.

Before becoming governor, Connally served as secretary of the Navy under Kennedy, and afterward was treasury secretary under President Richard Nixon.

Worth Repeating

“Spectacular achievements come from unspectacular preparation.”
— Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys who turns 75 on February 5.