AUSTIN — A crowd of citizens and dignitaries gathered on the south lawn of the state Capitol on Nov. 19 to witness the unveiling of the Texas African American History Memorial.   

The 32-foot-wide, 27-foot-tall bronze monument by sculptor Ed Dwight features images of African-Americans in Texas from modern times going back nearly 500 years.  

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a former long-time member of the Texas House of Representatives, spoke at the event.  

“This monument stands as a marker that no matter how smart you may think you are, no matter how gifted you may be, and no matter what contribution you may have made, we are standing on the foundation and the shoulders of people who have sacrificed to get us where we are today,” Turner said.  

Gov. Greg Abbott, who also delivered remarks at the ceremony, said: “Today we come together to proudly honor the African-Americans who helped to grow Texas from the bounty of the land, from the sweat of their toil and from the passion of their dreams.”  

“We are reminded that our work is not yet done,” Abbott said. “If we are to truly elevate Texas to its limitless potential, we must continue to expand liberty and opportunity for all.”  

The effort to have a monument to the contributions of Texas’ African-Americans commissioned and installed on the Capitol grounds was launched some 20 years ago, according to the Texas African-American Memorial Foundation, an organization created to raise funds for the project.  

Oil discovery is reported  

The United States Geological Survey on Nov. 15 announced the largest estimate of “continuous oil” ever assessed in the United States, and it’s in Texas.  

The Wolfcamp shale in the Midland Basin portion of the Permian Basin contains an estimated mean of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.  

This estimate, according to the USGS, consists of undiscovered, technically recoverable resources.   

The estimate of continuous oil in the Midland Basin Wolfcamp shale assessment is nearly three times larger than that of the 2013 USGS Bakken-Three Forks, which is situated in a land area that includes the western two-thirds of North Dakota, the northwestern corner of South Dakota and northeastern Montana, and extends northward into the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba.  

Continuous oil and gas, according to the USGS, are dispersed throughout a geologic formation rather than existing as discrete, localized occurrences, such as those in conventional accumulations. Because of that, continuous resources commonly require special technical drilling and recovery methods, such as hydraulic fracturing.  

Texas economy adds jobs  

The Texas Workforce Commission on Nov. 18 announced Texas grew by an estimated 13,700 nonfarm jobs in October and the state has added jobs in 18 of the past 19 months.   

Also, Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.7 percent in October, down slightly from 4.8 percent in September, and remained below the national rate of 4.9 percent.   

“Texas employers continue to demonstrate the resiliency of the Texas economy with 207,500 jobs added over the past year,” said Andres Alcantar, chair of the Texas Workforce Commission.   

Abbott releases tax return  

Gov. Abbott on Nov. 22 released his federal tax return for 2015.   

The document shows:  

- $119,819 in total wages earned;  

- $42,544 paid in property taxes;  

- 37 percent combined local, state and federal tax burden; and  

- $13,125 in charitable contributions.  

Anti-smoking bills filed  

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, recently filed SB 183, legislation to increase the legal age to purchase, possess or consume tobacco and nicotine products in Texas from 18 to 21 years of age.  

Uresti also filed SB 228, legislation that would allow municipalities to determine a smoking age that is best for their communities.  

The bills are supported by a broad coalition of Texans, Uresti said, and pointed out that “tobacco use kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined.” Cities and the state have an obligation to discourage young people from taking up a habit that is likely to shorten their lives, he added.