Prisoners' bodies discovered in 2018

During Spring 2018 groundbreaking for construction for the Fort Bend Independent School District, ninety-five bodies were discovered in the area near the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery, in Sugar Land, TX. Forensics have since revealed that these bodies are those of African American men (and one woman), of an age consistent with victims of Sugar Land's convict leasing system, circa 1878-1910. Chains and other artifacts associated with this prison labor system were also discovered.

News coverage of these 2018 findings, and more: 

January 2019

Editorial board. “We Can't Fight Racism without Looking It in the Eye [Editorial].”HoustonChronicle.com, Houston Chronicle, 19 Jan. 2019, www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/We-can-t-fight-racism-without-looking-it-in-the-13545448.php.

Kent, Roy. “Elections Highlight Fort Bend County in 2018.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 1 Jan. 2019, www.chron.com/neighborhood/sugarland/news/article/Elections-highlight-Fort-Bend-County-in-2018-13497604.php. See section on the Sugar Land 95.

December 2018

McClellan, Theresa D., and JuneRose Futcher. “Internment of Sugar Land 95 Lingers in Court – School District, Advocates at Odds over Reburial of Remains from Cemetery.” Fort Bend Southwest Star Newspaper, 26 Dec. 2018, www.fortbendstar.com/internment-of-sugar-land-95-lingers-in-court-school-district-advocates-at-odds-over-reburial-of-remains-from-cemetery/.

Rhor, Monica. “Discovery of African-American Graves in Texas Highlights 'Moment of Reckoning'.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 27 Dec. 2018, www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/12/27/graves-95-african-americans-forced-into-labor-after-slavery-convict-leasing-system-texas/2364201002/.

Lewis, Brooke A. “Fort Bend ISD Objects to Appointment of Attorney to Decide Reburial of Post-Civil War Era Remains.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 5 Dec. 2018, www.chron.com/neighborhood/fortbend/news/article/Fort-Bend-ISD-files-objection-to-court-order-13441857.php.

November 2018

Lewis, Brooke A. “Judge Delays Decision on Reburial of 95 Remains at Fort Bend ISD Site.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 20 Nov. 2018, www.chron.com/neighborhood/fortbend/news/article/Judge-halts-decision-on-reburial-of-remains-at-13405131.php.

October 2018

Kirk, Bryan. “Op-Ed: Sugar Lands Dark Past Opens The Door To A Brighter Future.” Sugar Land, TX Patch, Sugar Land, TX Patch, 25 Oct. 2018, patch.com/texas/sugarland/amp/27781246/op-ed-sugar-lands-dark-past-opens-the-door-to-a-brighter-future.

Flynn, Meagan. “A School District Wants to Relocate the Bodies of 95 Black Forced-Labor Prisoners Found on Its Property.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Oct. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/10/25/school-district-wants-relocate-bodies-black-forced-labor-prisoners/?utm_term=.3f28cfe1a6f1.

Lewis, Brooke A. “Sugar Land Officials Urge Reburial of 95 Remains at Old Imperial Farm Cemetery.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 25 Oct. 2018, www.chron.com/neighborhood/fortbend/news/article/Sugar-Land-city-council-recommends-re-burial-of-13333375.php#photo-16314490.

Lewis, Brooke A. “DNA Testing Likely for Remains Found at Fort Bend Work Site.” HoustonChronicle.com, Houston Chronicle, 11 Oct. 2018, www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/texas/article/DNA-testing-likely-for-remains-found-at-Fort-Bend-13299387.php?cmpid=gsa-chron-result.

September 2018

Reginald Moore testimony at State Board of Education regarding treatment of slavery in Texas within Texas history textbooks, September 11, 2018, http://adminmonitor.com/tx/tea/committee_of_the_full_board/20180911/3/. See Part 2, at minute marker 01:29:00.

Lewis, Brooke A. “DNA Testing Eyed at Forgotten Sugar Land Cemetery.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 7 Sept. 2018, www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/DNA-testing-eyed-at-forgotten-Sugar-Land-cemetery-13210998.php?cmpid=gsa-chron-result.

Boney, Jeffrey L. "A Texas-sized tragedy: Horrific Convict-Leasing System Exposes Dark Truths about American History." Houston Forward Times, 5 Sept., 2018. http://forwardtimes.com/a-texas-sized-tragedy-horrific-convict-leasing-system-exposes-dark-truths-about-american-history/ 

Ferguson, John Wayne. "Old isle families used black men for convict labor." Galveston County Daily News, 2 Sept. 2018. 

Reynolds, Jennifer. "Convict-leasing documents at Rosenberg Library." Galveston County Daily News, 1 Sept. 2018. 

August 2018

Exposed - The Brutal History of Texas' Convict Leasing System. Part 3 of 3.” Meet in the Middle Chronicles (Facebook), Meet in the Middle Chronicles, 31 Aug. 2018, www.facebook.com/MitMChronicles/videos/1048342408661299/.

Exposed - The Brutal History of Texas' Convict Leasing System. Part 2 of 3.” Meet in the Middle Chronicles (Facebook), 29 Aug. 2018, www.facebook.com/MitMChronicles/videos/457087098131994/.

Exposed - The Brutal History of Texas' Convict Leasing System. Part 1 of 3.” Meet in the Middle Chronicles (Facebook), 27 Aug. 2018, https://www.facebook.com/MitMChronicles/videos/2178839349025720/

Borg, Jessica. “Fort Bend County Remains Shed Light on Prisoner Leasing System Contracts.”KHOU, KHOU, 28 Aug. 2018, www.khou.com/article/news/local/fort-bend-county-remains-shed-light-on-prisoner-leasing-system-contracts/285-588483142.

“Cemetery Task Force to Provide Recommendation on Interment, Memorialization.” Sugar Land, TX - Official Website | Official Website, City of Sugar Land, 27 Aug. 2018, www.sugarlandtx.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1191.

Documenting 'Slavery by Another Name' in Texas.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 13 Aug. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/opinion/texas-slavery-african-american-graveyard.html.

Fort Bend ISD Continues to Partner with Community to Honor Individuals Buried at Historic Cemetery (8/8/2018).” Fort Bend ISD / Homepage, 8 Aug. 2018, www.fortbendisd.com/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=4&ModuleInstanceID=12&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=126508&PageID=1.

Isensee, Laura. “Rice Archive Catalogs Fort Bend Advocate's Efforts to Preserve Convict Leasing History.” Houston Public Media, Houston Public Media, 7 Aug. 2018, www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/2018/08/07/298932/rice-archive-catalogs-fort-bend-advocates-efforts-to-preserve-convict-leasing-history/.

July 2018

KHOU Staff.“Talks Underway on What to Do with Remains from Old Cemetery in Fort Bend County.”KHOU, KHOU, 30 July 2018, www.khou.com/article/news/local/neighborhood/talks-underway-on-what-to-do-with-remains-from-old-cemetery-in-fort-bend-county/285-578811784.

Slavery after the Civil War: Sugar Land's Dark Past as the Convict Leasing Capital of Texas .” CW39 NewsFix, 27 July 2018, cw39.com/2018/07/26/slavery-after-the-civil-war-sugar-lands-dark-past-as-the-convict-leasing-capital-of-texas/.

Katharine, Shilcutt. “Activist's Archives on Sugar Land Convict-Leasing System Reside at Rice.” Rice News, 23 July 2018, news.rice.edu/2018/07/23/activists-archives-on-sugar-land-convict-leasing-system-reside-at-rice/.

Hardy, Michael. “For Local Activist, Discovery of Sugar Land Cemetery for Convict Laborers Was No Surprise.” Texas Monthly, Texas Monthly, 20 July 2018, www.texasmonthly.com/news/activist-discusses-discovery-of-sugar-land-cemetery-for-convict-laborers/.

Lewis, Brooke A. “'They Lived a Hard Life': New Details Emerge about Remains Found at Fort Bend ISD Construction Site.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 19 July 2018, www.chron.com/neighborhood/fortbend/news/article/News-details-revealed-about-remains-found-at-Fort-13079281.php.

“Experts Searching for Relatives of Bodies Exhumed at Unmarked Cemetery.” KHOU, KHOU-TV, 18 July 2018, www.khou.com/video/news/local/experts-searching-for-relatives-of-bodies-exhumed-at-unmarked-cemetery/285-8193480.

Flynn, Meagan. “Bodies Believed to Be Those of 95 Black Forced-Labor Prisoners from Jim Crow Era Unearthed in Sugar Land after One Man's Quest.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 July 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/07/18/bodies-of-95-black-forced-labor-prisoners-from-jim-crow-era-unearthed-in-sugar-land-after-one-mans-quest/?noredirect=on.

CBS News. “Dozens of Bodies Exhumed in Texas Likely Those of Black Inmates Forced to Work on Plantations.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 18 July 2018, www.cbsnews.com/news/bodies-black-inmates-who-worked-on-plantations-exhumed-fort-bend-county-texas-sugar-land/.

Campisi, Jessica, and Brandon Griggs. “Nearly 100 Bodies Found at a Construction Site Were Probably Black People Forced into Labor.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 July 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/07/18/us/bodies-found-construction-site-slavery-trnd/index.html.

Southern, Joe. “Graves Were Those of Leased Convict Laborers – School District Gives Peek at Archaeology at Historic Cemetery.” Fort Bend Southwest Star Newspaper, 17 July 2018, www.fortbendstar.com/graves-were-those-of-leased-convict-laborers-school-district-gives-peek-at-archaeology-at-historic-cemetery/.

Farber, Madeline. “Texas Construction Workers Discover Remains of 95 African-American Laborers from Early 20th Century.” Fox News, FOX News Network, 18 July 2018, www.foxnews.com/science/2018/07/18/texas-construction-workers-discover-remains-95-african-american-laborers-from-early-20th-century.html.

Mervosh, Sarah. “Remains of Black People Forced Into Labor After Slavery Are Discovered in Texas.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 July 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/us/grave-convict-lease-texas.html.

Zilber, Ariel. “Bodies of 95 Black Forced-Labor Prisoners from Jim Crow Era Unearthed.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 18 July 2018, www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5968503/Bodies-95-black-forced-labor-prisoners-Jim-Crow-era-unearthed-Texas.html.

Martinez, Matthew. “Construction on Texas School Unearths 95 Bodies of Freed Slaves in Prison Camp, Researchers Say.” Star-Telegram, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 18 July 2018, www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article215083725.html.

Fletcher, Abner. “Exhuming Unmarked Graves In Sugar Land: Inside The Process And What Can Be Learned.” Houston Public Media, Houston Public Media, 14 June 2018, featuring archaeologist Dr. Ken Brown,  www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/shows/houston-matters/2018/06/14/290745/exhuming-unmarked-graves-in-sugar-land-inside-the-process-and-what-can-be-learned/.

Remains, Historic Items Pulled from Unmarked Sugar Land Cemetery.” KHOU-TV, KHOU, 16 July 2018, www.khou.com/video/news/local/remains-historic-items-pulled-from-unmarked-sugar-land-cemetery/285-8190950.

Borg, Jessica. “Bodies Exhumed at Fort Bend ISD Construction Site and Unmarked Cemetery.” KHOU, KHOU, 16 July 2018, www.khou.com/article/news/local/bodies-exhumed-at-fort-bend-isd-construction-site-and-unmarked-cemetery/285-574461390.

News, CBS. “A Mass Grave with Nearly 100 Bodies Suspected to Be Black Prisoners Has Been Unearthed in Texas during Construction Https://T.co/aYIcGo5zvO Pic.twitter.com/6jzFkIgkAj.” Twitter, Twitter, 14 July 2018, twitter.com/CBSNews/status/1018258900137775105.

CBS News. “Dozens of Bodies Exhumed in Texas Likely Those of Black Inmates Forced to Work on Plantations.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 18 July 2018, www.cbsnews.com/news/bodies-black-inmates-who-worked-on-plantations-exhumed-fort-bend-county-texas-sugar-land/.

June 2018 ---

Fort Bend ISD Granted Petition to Exhume Remains Found at Historic Cemetery (6/4/2018).” Fort Bend ISD / Homepage, 4 June 2018, www.fortbendisd.com/site/default.aspx?PageType=3&DomainID=4&ModuleInstanceID=12&ViewID=6446EE88-D30C-497E-9316-3F8874B3E108&RenderLoc=0&FlexDataID=125117&PageID=1.

Lewis, Brooke A. “Fort Bend ISD Finds Historic Cemetery near Construction Site.” Houston Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, 4 June 2018, www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Fort-Bend-ISD-finds-historic-cemetery-near-12839378.php.

May 2018 ---

Singer, Dan. “Sugar Land's Convicts-for-Lease Past Unearths Itself off University Blvd.” Swamplot, Swamplot, 1 May 2018, swamplot.com/sugar-lands-convicts-for-lease-past-unearths-itself-off-university-blvd/2018-05-01/.

April 2018 ---

Hardy, Michael. “Newly Discovered Cemetery Vindicates Sugar Land Activist.” Texas Monthly, Texas Monthly, 13 Apr. 2018, www.texasmonthly.com/news/newly-discovered-cemetery-vindicates-sugar-land-activist/.

Lewis, Brooke A. “Cemetery near Houston Could Be Resting Place for Prisoners.” AP News, Associated Press, 19 Apr. 2018, www.apnews.com/553bf7be12174ad2a2d5d20fb63bc225.

Grinan, Jose. “Mystery Deepens over Unmarked Sugar Land Cemetery on Ft. Bend School Site.” KRIV, FOX 26 Houston, 13 Apr. 2018, www.fox26houston.com/news/mystery-deepens-over-unmarked-sugar-land-cemetery-on-site-of-ft-bend-school-project.

Borg, Jessica. “Looking Deeper into the Cemetery Found on a Construction Site in Sugar Land.” KHOU, KHOU, 12 Apr. 2018, www.khou.com/article/news/looking-deeper-into-the-cemetery-found-on-a-construction-site-in-sugar-land/285-537504724.

Kennedy, Mike. “Discovery of Graves Halts Construction of Fort Bend (Texas) School Facility.” American School & University, 11 Apr. 2018, www.asumag.com/new-construction/discovery-graves-halts-construction-fort-bend-texas-school-facility.

2016 ---

Hardy, Michael. “Blood and Sugar.” Texas Monthly, Texas Monthly, 21 Dec. 2016, www.texasmonthly.com/articles/sugar-land-slave-convict-labor-history/.

Martin, Maggie. “Slavery By Another Name: The History of Convict Leasing in Texas.” Houston Public Media, Houston Public Media, 23 March 2016, www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/shows/houston-matters/2016/03/23/215128/slavery-by-another-name-the-history-of-convict-leasing-in-texas/.

2015 ---

Binkovitz, Leah. “Houston-Area Prison Cemetery Recalls Era of Forced Labor.” Lubbock Avalanche, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 3 Nov. 2015, www.lubbockonline.com/texas/2015-11-03/houston-area-prison-cemetery-recalls-era-forced-labor.

2012 ---

Sims, Patsy. “From Chain Gangs to Chain Stores.” The Texas Observer, The Texas Observer, 26 Oct. 2012, www.texasobserver.org/2786-from-chain-gangs-to-chain-stores-sugar-lands-storied-prison-farm-gives-way-to-suburban-sprawl/.

Prisoners' bodies discovered in 2018