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Who were the

Sugar Land 95?

The first bone was found in February 2018, by a backhoe operator clawing through the dirt on land owned by the Fort Bend Independent School District. By the summer, the remains of 94 men and one woman, all African-American victims of convict leasing, had been recovered on the future site of a career and technical education center. Ranging in age from 14 to 70, the inmates had muscular builds but were malnourished, their bones misshapen from back-breaking, repetitive labor. They were buried in plain pine boxes sometime between 1878 and 1911.

 

CLLP has been at the forefront of the fight to preserve the Sugar Land 95's burial ground and ensure they are properly memorialized.

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THE SUGAR LAND 95

The Sugar Land 95 are the 95 African-American individuals unearthed during a construction in Sugar Land, Texas, 30 miles southwest of Houston. Archaeologists found evidence that the 95 individuals belonged to the state of Texas' convict leasing system and were buried in the unmarked gravesite.

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TIMELINE

October 2017

Construction of the James Reese Career and Technical Center began. During site preparation, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) contacted Fort Bend Independent School District, and the District retained archaeologists from Goshawk Environmental Consulting to search for potential archaeological artifacts.

February 2018

A backhoe operator found two bones during construction. Analysis confirmed they were human. Charles Dupre, Fort Bend ISD Superintendent, notified Reginald Moore by phone.

March–April 2018

Archaeologists conducted a perimeter search and discovered several interments on site.

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April 2018

As Fort Bend ISD and THC announced the discovery of the historic cemetery, exploratory work continued. Over the next months, the perimeter was established. Construction continued in areas not affected by archaeological work. Over the month, the count of discovered graves reached 30, then 79, then 89. By July it reached 95.

June 2018

The 434th District Court granted Fort Bend ISD permission to exhume human remains for purposes of further historic investigation.

July 2018

Fort Bend ISD, THC, and Goshawk Environmental Consulting spoke to the media about ongoing exhumation and forensic analysis. They announced that in their judgement, the 95 bodies were those of inmates in the convict leasing system. All of the remains indicated African American traits and hard, repetitive labor. Artifacts such as a brick, a ring, chains were found within the burial site.

 

Fort Bend ISD and the City of Sugar Land entered into a memorandum of understanding, in which they agreed to cooperate regarding future reinterment at the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery. At this point, Fort Bend ISD planned to construct the still-unbuilt portion of James Reese Career and Technical Center, after the remains had been removed and reburied at another site.

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August 20