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Thu, 07.19.2018

The Sugarland 95, a story

*The Sugarland 95 was affirmed on this date in 2018.  This is a name given to 95 people believed to be Black convicts forced to work the sugarcane fields during the Jim Crow era. 

Archaeologists in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land are exhuming and testing their remains. The gravesites were uncovered in April during the construction of a new school on the former site of the Imperial State Farm Prison, a notorious penitentiary named for the Imperial Sugar Company, once the nation's leading sugar producer.  Officials from the Fort Bend Independent School District decided to call archaeologists to the construction site for the new building after a worker saw what looked like a human bone protruding from the dirt.

The officials had been alerted to the possibility of burials by Reginald Moore, a Houston native who began researching the site's history more than two decades ago, after working briefly as a guard at a state prison. 

All the remains the researchers have tested so far have been Black males, except for one female. They ranged in age from 14 to 70, and the archaeologists have found that many of their bones are misshapen in the same way, indicating the repetitive stress of hard labor. In addition to the remains, the researchers also uncovered rusty tools and chains the laborers might have worn.

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Black is the first nail I ever stepped on; Black the hand that dried my tears. Black is the first old man I ever noticed; Black the burden of his years. Black is... NEGRITUDE by James Emanuel
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