The state of Texas, like many across the South, was resistant to the ending of slavery after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. In the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, 95 bodies uncovered at a building construction site reveals that Texas may have been forcing Black convicts or even free Blacks into slave labor.
The discovery of the bodies was made last week at the site of a Fort Bend Independent School District building. The bodies were housed in wooden caskets and of the dozens of subjects examined, only one of them so far has been identified as a woman. The age range of the bodies varies from one as young as 14 years old and another as old as 60.
Reginald Moore, a former prison guard turned activist, has spearheaded a research project focused in historical cemeteries. He is also the lead on the Sugar Land Convict Leasing System research collection, and tipped archaeologists working on the land that there was a possibility of unearthing bodies at the construction site. Moore’s research is centered on the injustices levied by Sugar Land officials in using convicts to work under harsh conditions of sugar cane farming.
According to reports, the bodies were buried between 1878 and 1910, well after slavery’s official end.