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Wed Jul 18, 2018, 09:59 AM

Bodies of 95 black forced-labor prisoners from Jim Crow era unearthed in Sugar Land after one man's

Source: Washington Post, via Richmond Times-Dispatch

Bodies of 95 black forced-labor prisoners from Jim Crow era unearthed in Sugar Land after one man's quest

By Meagan Flynn / The Washington Post Jul 18, 2018 Updated 2 hrs ago

Today the city of Sugar Land is a sprawling suburb southwest of Houston, home to Imperial Sugar Co., shopping malls and endless cul-de-sacs. ... But, more than a century ago, it was a sprawling network of sugar cane plantations and prison camps. Sugar Land was better known then as the Hellhole on the Brazos. From sun up to sun down, convicts who were leased by the state to plantation owners toiled in the fields chopping sugar cane sometimes until they "dropped dead in their tracks," as the State Convention of Colored Men of Texas complained in 1883.

In modern-day Sugar Land it was all easy to forget - but not for one man named Reggie Moore, who couldn't stop thinking about it. ... Moore started researching Sugar Land's slavery and convict-leasing history after spending time working as a prison guard at one of Texas's oldest prisons, but his curiosity evolved into obsession. He had a hunch. Based on what he learned, he believed that the bodies of former slaves and black prisoners were still buried in Sugar Land's backyard. He focused his attention on a site called the Imperial State Prison Farm, the one that bore the name of the country's premier sugar company.

For 19 years he searched for their bodies, stopping just short of sticking a shovel in the dirt himself. ... "I felt like I had to be a voice for the voiceless," said Moore, who is African American. ... This week, his quest produced results. ... At the former Imperial State Prison Farm site, archaeologists have unearthed an entire plot of precise rectangular graves for 95 souls, each buried 2 to 5 feet beneath the soil in nearly disintegrated pinewood caskets. The 19th century cemetery was unmarked, with no vestige of its existence visible from the surface.

And it was almost "truly lost to history," archaeologist Reign Clark of Goshawk Environmental Consulting told The Washington Post. ... The graves were found, really, by accident. The local Fort Bend Independent School District began construction on a new school at the former prison site in October. Then in February, a backhoe operator happened to see something jutting out of the dirt. He thought it was a human bone.
....

Read more: https://www.richmond.com/news/trending/bodies-of-black-forced-labor-prisoners-from-jim-crow-era/article_d16495ca-db43-550c-918f-0ac9b65fcb30.html



Just about the best book I've read in the last few years was "Slavery by Another Name." It was written by Douglas Blackmon, who at the time was the Atlanta bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. He is now at the University of Virginia.

-- -- -- --

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB120674340028272915

BOOKS EXCERPT

A Different Kind of Slavery

After Abolition, Forced Labor Thrived in South; Helping Rebuild Atlanta

By Douglas A. Blackmon

Updated March 29, 2008 12:01 a.m. ET

A Different Kind of Slavery

At the center of a massive new real-estate development in Atlanta, an $18 million monument designed to honor 2,000 years of human achievement is nearing completion. When it opens this summer, a museum inside the Millennium Gate also will pay special tribute to the accomplishments and philanthropy of some of the founding families of modern Atlanta. Organizers say plans for the exhibit don't include one overlooked aspect of two of the city's post-Civil War leaders: the extensive use of thousands of forced black laborers. The builders of the 73-foot archway say the museum is too small to convey every aspect of the city's founders and that it's appropriate to focus on the positive aspects of these men. In this adaptation from his new book, "Slavery by Another Name," Douglas A. Blackmon, Atlanta bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, chronicles how companies owned by these two men used forced labor to help rebuild Atlanta -- a practice that was widespread through the South.

Millions of bricks used to make the sidewalks and streets of Atlanta's oldest neighborhoods -- many of them still in use today -- came from a factory owned by James W. English, the city's former mayor, and operated almost entirely with black forced laborers. Many had been convicted of frivolous or manufactured crimes and then leased by the city to Mr. English's company, Chattahoochee Brick Co.

Between the Emancipation Proclamation and the beginning of World War II, millions of African-Americans were compelled into or lived under the shadow of the South's new forms of coerced labor. Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands were arbitrarily detained, hit with high fines and charged with the costs of their arrests. With no means to pay such debts, prisoners were sold into coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroad construction crews and plantations. Others were simply seized by southern landowners and pressed into years of involuntary servitude.

At the turn of the 20th century, at least 3,464 African-American men and 130 women lived in forced labor camps in Georgia, according to a 1905 report by the federal Commissioner of Labor.

-- -- -- --

https://millercenter.org/experts/douglas-blackmon

DOUGLAS BLACKMON
Director of Public Programs, Executive Producer of American Forum

Douglas A. Blackmon is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II , and co-executive producer of the acclaimed PBS documentary of the same name. He is also executive producer and host of American Forum, a public affairs program produced by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and aired on more than 200 public television affiliates across the U.S.

His book, a searing examination of how the enslavement of African-Americans persisted deep into the 20th Century, was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. The Slavery by Another Name documentary was broadcast in February 2012 and attracted an audience of 4.8 million viewers. Slavery by Another Name grew out of his 2001 article on slave labor in The Wall Street Journal. It revealed the use of forced labor by dozens of U.S. corporations and commercial interests in coal mines, timber camps, factories, and farms in cities and states across the South, beginning after the Civil War and continuing until the beginning of World War II.

Blackmon was the longtime chief of The Wall Street Journal’s Atlanta bureau and the paper’s Senior National Correspondent, and was a contributing editor at the Washington Post. He has written about or directed coverage of some of the most pivotal stories in American life, including the election of President Barack Obama, the rise of the tea party movement, and the BP oil spill. Overseeing coverage of 11 southeastern states for the Journal, he and his team of reporters were responsible for the Journal’s acclaimed coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the failed federal response after that disaster; the Journal’s investigation into the training and preparations of the 9/11 hijackers in Florida; immigration; poverty; politics; and daily reporting on more than 2,500 corporations based in the region.

As a writer and editor at large, Blackmon led the Journal’s coverage of the tea party and the final hours before the BP oil spill—for which he and a team of other Journal writers were finalists for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Those stories received a Gerald Loeb Award in June 2011.

-- -- -- --

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Arrow 33 replies Author Time Post
Reply Bodies of 95 black forced-labor prisoners from Jim Crow era unearthed in Sugar Land after one man's (Original post)
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2018 OP
FSogol Jul 2018 #1
turbinetree Jul 2018 #2
rogue emissary Jul 2018 #3
heaven05 Jul 2018 #4
Marthe48 Jul 2018 #5
Bayard Jul 2018 #19
Marthe48 Jul 2018 #26
AzurAmerica Jul 2018 #6
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2018 #10
workinclasszero Jul 2018 #7
Solly Mack Jul 2018 #8
niyad Jul 2018 #9
panader0 Jul 2018 #11
muntrv Jul 2018 #12
dembotoz Jul 2018 #13
BumRushDaShow Jul 2018 #14
blue-wave Jul 2018 #15
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2018 #16
blue-wave Jul 2018 #17
Gothmog Jul 2018 #18
Hekate Jul 2018 #20
Snake Plissken Jul 2018 #21
47of74 Jul 2018 #22
eppur_se_muova Jul 2018 #23
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2018 #24
marieo1 Jul 2018 #25
SharonClark Jul 2018 #27
Gothmog Jul 2018 #28
GulfCoast66 Jul 2018 #29
Scurrilous Jul 2018 #30
Judi Lynn Jul 2018 #31
WhiteTara Jul 2018 #32
mahatmakanejeeves Jul 2018 #33

Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:05 AM

1. K & R. n/t

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:06 AM

2. What is the state going to do with and for the families that may want to claim the remains

this is just fucked up.........................

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:13 AM

3. K & R!

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:14 AM

4. these type of

 

arrangements were everywhere in the south. The lease brought in big bucks for the locals who put these lives into the hands of racist, predatory capitalist. Profit over every decent human consideration.

Thank you for this reminder of just how ingrained white racism became a system and institution of oppression of all POC, AA especially, even up to this day.

K & R

The book he mentioned: Slavery by Another Name. Truly sad, horrifying and a PERFECT example of racist amerika, predatory racist capitalism and capitalist.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:17 AM

5. Slavery has never ended

We think of young women forced into prostitution, but we rarely see or hear of the millions and millions of men, women and children forced to labor and bound to some evil bastard.

We hear of rich people entrapping people and forcing them to do housekeeping and other work. If the rich people get caught, they are in big trouble. But what about people who fly under the radar? And don't get caught.

A friend of mine who lives in Brazil has been posting pictures of black men and women tied up and being sold as slaves in markets in Africa.

I hope there is an end to this crime against humanity in my life-time. Prayers for the lost souls who are found. Prayers for all victims.

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Response to Marthe48 (Reply #5)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:53 AM

19. I've wondered...

Is this what they had in mind for the immigrant children separated from their parents at the border?

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Response to Bayard (Reply #19)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 01:33 PM

26. They don't have the children's best interests in mind

if so, they wouldn't be apart from their parents.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:27 AM

6. Black American Genocide

I don't think there's ever been any real attention paid to the true genocide waged against Black American bodies from this country's inception up until now. The article was a saddening read, I can't even imagine how bleak those men's lives must have been. What a cruel, hopeless situation. I doubt Imperial Sugar has ever acknowledged how steeped in black degradation their company's history is, or how much they owe to these indentured servants.

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Response to AzurAmerica (Reply #6)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:54 AM

10. Welcome to DU. I urge you to read Douglas Blackmon's book. NT

"NT" means "no further text." That is, there's no message text.

Well, this time there is.

Thanks for writing.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:33 AM

7. These are the "good ole days" that MAGA Trump lovers

are trying to drag us back into.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:39 AM

8. K&R

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 10:51 AM

9. and r

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:05 AM

11. A sad recommendation.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:07 AM

12. Peonage: Slavery By Another Name.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:12 AM

13. k and r

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:14 AM

14. That's how many unmarked grave sites and cemetaries are found

Development.

Developers with little or no historical background look at open swaths of land and figure - "Wow. Look at all this space to build on". In urban areas - particularly in older cities, developers/builders are often required to do some archeological surveys before they start going whole hog digging.

That's how what eventually became the "African Burial Ground National Memorial" in NYC came about, when the government started constructing a new facility and discovered human remains almost 30 ft below street level -

A Burial Ground and Its Dead Are Given Life

By EDWARD ROTHSTEINFEB. 25, 2010

Cemeteries are at least as much for the living as the dead. They are the locus of tribute and memory; they affirm connections to a place and its past. So in 1991, when during construction of a General Services Administration office building in Lower Manhattan, graves were discovered 24 feet below ground, and when those remains led to the discovery of hundreds of other bodies in the same area, and when it was determined that these were black New Yorkers interred in what a 1755 map calls the “Negros Burial Ground,” the earth seemed to shake from more than just machinery. The evidence created a conceptual quake, transforming how New York history is understood and how black New Yorkers connect to their past.

That is a reason why Saturday’s opening of the African Burial Ground Visitor Center, near where these remains were reinterred, is so important. Among the scars left by the heritage of slavery, one of the greatest is an absence: where are the memorials, cemeteries, architectural structures or sturdy sanctuaries that typically provide the ground for a people’s memory?

The discovery of this cemetery some two centuries after it was last used provided just such a foundation, disclosing not just a few beads, pins and buttons, but offering the first large-scale traces of black American experience in this region. Here, underneath today’s commercial bustle, are tracts of land that for more than a century were relegated to the burial of the city’s slaves and free blacks.

In all 419 bodies were discovered — giving a clue to how many others still lie under the foundations of Lower Manhattan. (Estimates have ranged from 10,000 to 20,000.)

https://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/26/arts/design/26burial.html




https://www.nps.gov/afbg/index.htm

I remember the whole thing became a 20-year fiasco from the time of its first discovery, to finally reaching the point of re-interring dug-up bodies and getting the memorial built, as it became a literal battle to get there. Apparently there has been a discovery of another burial site in Manhattan, so the saga continues.

Now that the site in Sugarland has been found, I hope Mr. Moore and anyone working with him, will have an easier time at it than the organizations in New York had with their historic burial ground, although I doubt it will be easy.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:27 AM

15. Forced-labor is just another name for slavery

The 13th amendment does not abolish slavery completely:


Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


We need to eliminate the "except as a punishment for crime" clause. Slavery should never exist for ANY reason.

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Response to blue-wave (Reply #15)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:31 AM

16. "... except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,..."

During the Jim Crow era, this was misused. If you were black, and you were changing jobs, and you left one job yesterday and the next one didn't start until tomorrow, you could be arrested today as a vagrant and bonded out by the "justice" system to an employer. You might as well have been a slave.

Again, I urge people to read Blackmon's book.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #16)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:35 AM

17. As I said

slavery should never be used for any reason. There is much to much room for abuse. It is long, long past time to put this to rest and say enough! No more! Never again!

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 11:41 AM

18. It is tough living in Texas at times

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 12:06 PM

20. KnR

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 12:14 PM

21. I see this and it absolutely blows my mind that people can not be bothered to vote

Over 20% of the population is determined to go back there and nearly of half of all eligible voters can not be bothered to vote.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 12:29 PM

22. That's the fatal flaw with the 13th Amendment

It gave states the right to carry it on if a person was convicted of a crime.

We need to replace the 13th Amendment with one that absolutely forbids slavery and mandates the death penalty for anyone caught practicing it within our borders.

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Response to eppur_se_muova (Reply #23)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 12:51 PM

24. Thanks. I saw that a few years back. NT

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 01:03 PM

25. Slavery

This is so sad!! Terrible things happened then and are continuing to happen today.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 01:53 PM

27. Thank you for posting this article.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 04:32 PM

28. Fromn Paul Begala

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 04:54 PM

29. Question for those that know more than me

My dad left the Rural south for university in the early 50s. Middle class rural white which would equate to upper middle class now. He somehow became a liberal and hated the oppression of the rural south.

Anyway, my question. Dad always told me that after slavery the killing of African Americans got worse. He did not sugar coat slavery. But said that when it ended 2 things came into play.

White men no longer any personal interests in keeping African Americans alive.

And they had huge interest in keeping them totally oppressed lest they try to gain some power.

Was he correct?

By today’s standard my father would not be considered enlightened on race issues(he’s been dead for almost 30 years). But I am glad to have had him.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 05:02 PM

30. K&R

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 06:52 PM

31. So glad I didn't miss seeing your post. This information should be taken to heart. Thank you. n/t

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jul 18, 2018, 08:00 PM

32. May they all have more fortunate rebirth

That was definitely hell on earth. I'm glad their story is being told.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Fri Jul 20, 2018, 11:14 AM

33. Here's some background from the local reporter who has been writing about it for months.

David Fahrenthold Retweeted:

If you've been properly astounded by recent news that dozens of unmarked graves were found in Sugar Land, here's some background from the local reporter who has been writing about it for months.

Thread:



Since this story has been blowing up nationally----lets starts from the beginning. In early April, Fort Bend ISD first announced finding a little over 20 unmarked graves on the site of their new construction site.



LOCAL // HOUSTON

Fort Bend ISD finds historic cemetery near construction site

Brooke A. Lewis April 16, 2018 Updated: June 4, 2018 11:27 a.m.

The 31 marked graves inside Old Imperial Farm Cemetery are rusted and crumbling, markers of a time that Reginald Moore believes Sugar Land hopes to forget.

The 58-year-old has spent nearly two decades telling anyone who will listen about the old cemetery in Fort Bend County and how nearby areas may contain the graves of people who were part of the convict leasing system in Sugar Land. The statewide program, initiated shortly after slavery was outlawed more than 150 years ago, allowed prisoners, primarily African-Americans, to be contracted out for labor.

He relentlessly pushed city and school officials to study the open area near the cemetery and urged them not to build nearby. He watched anxiously as Fort Bend ISD began construction last year on a technical center within a mile and pleaded with them to conduct an archaeological survey first.

Now, city and school officials seem to be listening. Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre notified Moore this month that some 22 graves have been found on the construction site. Since the phone call, a school district official said, they’ve turned up more graves at the work site, thought to be 100 to 200 years old. ... “It’s indisputable,” said Moore, who serves as guardian of the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery. “They’ve been trying to hide this history for years, and now we can finally hold them accountable for the atrocities that happened that they didn’t want to be exposed.”
....

Follow Brooke A. Lewis: @brookelewisa

Brooke Lewis covers Fort Bend County for the city desk. She is a native Houstonian who loves exploring and writing about her hometown. She graduated with her master's in journalism from Syracuse University. She also holds an English Writing & Rhetoric degree from St. Edward's University in Austin.

Hi! please find the unroll here: Thread by @brookelewisa: "Since this story has been blowing up nationally----lets starts from the beginning. In early April, Fort Bend ISD first a […]" https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1020117869726765056.html
See you soon. 🤖


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