Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Biographical / Historical

Content Description

Restrictions

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Series I: Background

Series II: Correspondence

Series III: Resolutions and Awards

Series IV: Newsclippings

Series V: Published reports

Series VI: Photographs

Series VII: Video of public testimony regarding bond election 2006-2013

Series VIII: Community events, publicity and speaking 2013-2017

Series IX: Community events, publicity, speaking regarding discovery of prisoners' bodies, 2018

Series X: Additional Sugar Land background

Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the Reginald Moore Sugar Land Convict Leasing System research collection, 1878-2018 MS 636



source Moore, Reginald
Title: Reginald Moore Sugar Land Convict Leasing System research collection
Dates: 1878-2018
Identification: MS 636
Quantity: 2.5 Linear Feet5 boxes
Quantity: 0.65 Gigabytes7 video files of Public Comment portions Sugar Land City Council meetings
Language: English
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Biographical / Historical

Reginald Moore, of Sugar Land, Texas, has created or maintained this collection of material as part of his work with the Texas Slave Descendants Society. Mr. Moore is an historian and has a certification in Community Economic Development from the College of Biblical Studies. He is also a community activist, and has a particular interest in prison reform and prison re-entry into society. He served as a correctional officer in the Texas Department of Corrections, 1985-1988. Mr. Moore worked in the Beauford H. Jester I and III Units, a prison farm located in unincorporated Fort Bend County, Texas. Jester I Farm was the first built by the state at this site, and was known as the Old Harlem Farm. Although convict leasing as a practice is believed to have begun informally in 1872, the State of Texas sanctioned the contract to lease the penal system to the private firm of Ed H. Cunningham and L.A. Ellis (Cunningham and Ellis) in 1878. In 1883, the land and system reverted from private to state control. While working at this site, Mr. Moore became interested in the history of the Flanagan House (former warden's house) and then in the Central Unit of the prison. Over time, this interest grew and became a major research area for Mr. Moore, who went on to found and chair the Texas Slave Descendants' Society(TSDS) in the early 2000's. Through the TSDS and on his own, Mr. Moore, has worked to gain recognition for the past abuses associated with Sugar Land's convict leasing system. In 2016, the Texas Slave Descendants Society hosted its annual Labor Day program and honored Dr. Ken Brown (University of Houston) with the Emancipator Award for his archaeological work and advocacy in Sugar Land. Dr. Fred McGhee was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award. In the previous year, Dr. Lora Wildenthal (Rice University) was honored with the Emancipator Award for leading her students in highlighting Mr. Moore's work through the Houston Area Research Team program.

Mr. Moore serves as a member of the RIP Guardian program for the Imperial Prison Cemetery. Mr. Moore's son, Reginald J. Moore, earned a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Prairie View AM, and has also contributed to this body of research.

Texas Monthly magazine featured Mr. Moore and his advocacy regarding convict leasing in the January 2017 issue, available online at http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/sugar-land-slave-convict-labor-history/. In Summer 2017, construction began on the Sugar Land Heritage Museum and Visitor Center, with the City of Sugar Land and the Sugar Land Heritage Foundation as partners in its creation. The museum and visitor center are set to open by the end of 2017. Mr. Moore and the Texas Slave Descendants Society has lobbied since 2003 for a separate museum and monument to tell the story of convict leasing and black history, within the context of Fort Bend County history.

In 2018, unmarked graves in the vicinity of the Imperial Prison Cemetery were discovered when the land was being being developed for Fort Bend ISD's future technology center.

Fox 26 News story, "Mystery deepens over unmarked Sugar Land cemetery on Ft. Bend school site" April 13, 2018 http://www.fox26houston.com/news/mystery-deepens-over-unmarked-sugar-land-cemetery-on-site-of-ft-bend-school-project

KTRK ABC News story: "Historic cemetery found on construction site of Fort Bend ISD's future technology center" April 11, 2018: http://abc13.com/society/historic-cemetery-found-on-ft-bend-isd-work-site/3329602/

KTRK ABC News story: "89 graves found at construction site of Fort Bend ISD's new technology center" April 25, 2018 http://abc13.com/society/89-graves-found-at-site-of-fort-bend-isds-new-technology-center/3392447/

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Content Description

Correspondence, reports, research notes, and photographs created and/or maintained by Mr. Reginald Moore, relating to the history of the Convict Leasing System in Sugar Land, Texas and current efforts to publicly recognize that history. The reports included in this collection are in some cases publicly available, but are difficult to access. Correspondence includes letters and emails between Mr. Moore and various public officials and other interested parties such as archaeologist Fred McGhee.

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Restrictions

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center.

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Index Terms

Convict labor -- Texas
Prisoners -- Texas -- History
reports
letters (correspondence)
maps (documents)
notes
clippings (information artifacts)
Moore, Reginald

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Related Materials

An exhibit featuring this material has been created by Rice Univesity students as part of a Houston Area Research Team project in July 2015 under the leadership of Dr. Lora Wildenthal. See the exhibit online at http://exhibits.library.rice.edu/exhibits/show/sugarlandconvictleasing/about.

A physical exhibit called "Convict Leasing in Sugar Land: Featuring the Research Collection of Reginald Moore" was created and displayed at Rice University's Fondren Library in December 2015. This display coincided with the 150th anniversary of the 1865 13th Amendment to the Constitution. A news story in video format is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC6dsIE-mY8.

Additional archival materials relating to Reginald Moore's community activism are located the African American Library at the Gregory School, in Houston, Texas, http://www.thegregoryschool.org/collection.html.

Related Materials

News coverage of these 2018 findings, and more: 

July 2018

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.

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 ---

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/.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Reginald Moore Sugar Land Convict Leasing System research collection, 1878-2017, MS 636, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This material was donated by Reginald Moore in 2015-2018.

Reginald Moore can be contacted by phone.

To contact him, please provide your phone number to the staff at the Woodson Research Center, at woodson@rice.edu or 713-348-2586. The staff will provide your request to Mr. Moore, in accordance with our donor privacy policy. Thank you very much.

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Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Background

Box Folder
1 1 Convict leasing background
2 Sugar Land background
3 Reginald Moore biographical sketch
4 Note fragments from Reginald Moore
5 Flanagan House background
6 Archaeology
7-8 Texas Slave Descendants Society notes and letters
9 Texas Slave Descendants Society letterhead samples
10 Texas Slave Descendants Society packet regarding Imperial Char House 2005
11 Texas Slave Descendants Society packet regarding Central State Prison Farm 2006-2007
12 Site assessment for 96 acres at Hwy 6 and Hwy 90A, 2009

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Series II: Correspondence

Box Folder
1 13 Fred McGhee, archaeologist, correspondence 2014
14 City of Sugar Land correspondence regarding bond election and public testimony
Box Folder
2 1-2 Texas Historical Commission, including June 25, 2013 letter of support regarding recognition efforts for convict leasing system, written to City of Sugar Land
3 City of Sugar Land, regarding Lonnie Green Park, 2015
4 Texas Historical Commission, agendas and recordings on CD, January 2016
5 Texas Historical Commission, audio recording October 2016
6 Texas Historical Commission, 2017 correspondence regarding archaeological review of site for James Reese Career and Technology Center (Fort Bend ISD)
7 Fort Bend ISD and Goshawk Environmental Consulting correspondence regarding prisoners' bodies found in unmarked graves 2018
Box Folder
3 1 State of Texas political representatives
2 Texas General Land Office
3 Texas Department of Criminal Justice
4 Texas Board of Criminal Justice 2013
5 Save Texas Cemeteries 2006
6 University of Houston Sugar Land campus correspondence 2013-2014
7 Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy 2014-2015
8 Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission 2015
9 Rice University 2015
9a Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, including Jay Jenkins and other 2016

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Series III: Resolutions and Awards

Box Folder
3 10 First Annual Juneteenth and Abolitionist Recognition Day in Sugar Land 2010
11 Old Imperial Black Prison Cemetery Preservation and Historical Society honored for its commitment to preserving the heritage of this state and its people, by Dora Olivo, State Rep. District 27
12 Emancipator Awards 2013-2015
Biographical / Historical
The Emanciaptor Award is an annual Labor Day Recognition of the Convict Lease System, presented to a deserving community member by the Texas Slave Descendants Society.
Texas State Rep. Dora Olivo 2013
Patty Sayes 2014
Dr. Lora Wildenthal, Rice University 2015

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Series IV: Newsclippings

Box Folder
3 13 Newsclippings, including Summer 2017 news article regarding creation of Sugar Land Heritage Museum and Visitor Center 2004-2017
14 Newsclippings regarding discovery of 95 unmarked prisoner graves 2018

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Series V: Published reports

Box Folder
3 15 Biennial Report of the Directors and Superintendent of the Texas State Penitentiary (photocopy) 1878-1880
Box Folder
4 1 Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Central Unit Main Building and its Historical Significance 2003
2 Texas Central Prison State Farm, Central 2 Camp, HABS No. TX- ___
3 Bob Skiles report on Central State Prison Farm
4 Hell Hole on the Brazos 2004
5 Jaybird Woodpecker War research and notes
6 Brazoria County convict leasing research from the Brazoria County Historical Museum, including Lake Jackson Plantation
7 Mexican American War in my own words, by Reginald Jeremy Moore, 2008

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Series VI: Photographs

Box Folder
4 8-9 Photographs from Texas State Library and Archives (digital and print)

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Series VII: Video of public testimony regarding bond election 2006-2013

Conditions Governing Access
Video content to processed as AIP, Summer 2017. (asf format to mp4 in handbrake software, Z:\Video\ReginaldMoore-HART-2015)
Sugar Land City Council testimony and public comment. Dates: Feb. 21, 2006; July 16, 2013; August 06, 2013;August 20, 2013. Topic: park bond proposal regarding legacy of convict leasing in that area, requesting a memorial of some kind and/ or a museum in the park area. 2006-2013

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Series VIII: Community events, publicity and speaking 2013-2017

Box Folder
4 10 Black Panthers background and note of Reginald Moore's comments on radio shows
11 Event: 1st Annual Juneteenth Celebration / Abolitionist Day Recognition program
12 Events: 1st Annual Labor Day Recognition program, 2013
13 Events: Labor Day Festival / Texas Slave Descendants Society program, 2014
13a Television show "The Dead Files" featuring prison farm in Lake Jackson, 2016
14 Event: 4th Annual Labor Day Recognition event program "Where Do We Go from Here?" flyers 2016
Event: 4th Annual Labor Day Recognition event program "Where Do We Go from Here?" audio recording of speeches (4 hours, 7 minutes) 2016
Scope and Contents
Filename MLK-event-2016-speeches.MP3
Box Folder
4 15 Regarding Ava DuVernay's film project"13th" on Netflix, Reginald Moore's comments on radio show Democracy Now, 2016
16 Correspondence regarding film project by Alex Johnston "A Natural Death" 2015
17 Article on Reginald Moore by Texas Monthly magazine, "Blood and Sugar" January 2017
18 Radio call-in show transcription, "Prison Show," KPFT, Nov. 6, 2016
19 Event: Moore speaking at Women Empowerment Training Institute, on free labor having built Sugar Land, certificate and images, 2017
KPRC news coverage of 2016 MLK event organized by Reginald Moore (audio recording of tv news), Sept. 5, 2016
Scope and Contents
Filename MLK-event2016-KPRCnews.MP3
KFPT Houston radio talk show recording regarding slavery and MLK (7 minutes 42 seconds)
Scope and Contents
Filename KPFT-radio-undated.mp3
C-SPAN interview, Reginald Moore calling in regarding reparations for slavery and other crimes against African-Americans, audio (6 minutes 42 seconds) 2017-11-13
Scope and Contents
Filename C_SPAN-call-in-2017.MP3
C-SPAN interview, Reginald Moore calling in regarding budget priorities, defense spending when social security needs attention to help the poor (3 minutes, 23 seconds) 2017-02-28
Scope and Contents
Filename C-SPAN-Feb29-2017.MP3
C-SPAN call-in regarding MLK, the Poor People's Campaign (2 minutes and 39 seconds) 2017-04-04
Related Materials
Filename C-SPAN-April4-2017.MP3
Texas Historical Commission public meetings recording, January 2016
Scope and Contents
Full commission meeting, as well as Antiquities Advisory Board, Archaeology committee, Architecture committee, and more. Mr. Moore was present and recorded the audio.

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Series IX: Community events, publicity, speaking regarding discovery of prisoners' bodies, 2018

Box Folder
4 20 Correspondence, event flyers, news clippings 2018

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Series X: Additional Sugar Land background

Box Folder
5 1 Sugar Land news clippings and background

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