SUGAR LAND, Texas (FOX 26) - Everyone in southeast Texas knows what Sugar Land is known for, but historian Reginald Moore says not too many people know which hands built the fields of sugar into what they are today.
“I say Sugar Land has a dirty little secret and it’s not sweet,” says Moore.
He says the construction site is also known as Old Imperial Central Cemetery. A few months back after starting construction, Fort Bend ISD officials say they found what appeared to be grave sites.
Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre sent us a statement saying, “We are appreciative of the Texas Historical Commission’s guidance during this process, and we hope to begin further analysis soon to ensure that we are properly honoring the deceased and identifying an appropriate location for reinterment."
FBISD and about 10 to 12 archeologists have been working since June. So far 95 burial sites have been discovered and 48 bodies have been exhumed. They are said to be between 14 and 70 years of age, and all but one are men.
The burials are believed to be from 1878 to 1910 and that those people may have been part of a convict leasing program, where officials say the state lease out prisoners to work the sugar fields. Before that, Moore says slaves were used to man the fields.
Kofi Taharka, the national chairman for the National Black United Front, says, “Those remains have to be treated with the upmost respect and again though, think about the labor. Think about the millions or billions that Imperial Sugar Company has made through free labor through enslavement and the convict leader system."
“I think they should be properly memorialized, properly buried and a museum put up with some type of restitution, reconciliation and reparation,” says Moore.