Sugar Land, Texas — “The ‘convict lease system’ was a crime against humanity. It began right after enslaved people won their freedom. People have made millions of dollars off the free labor of our enslaved and imprisoned ancestors,” said Kofi Taharka, national chair of the National Black United Front. As she spoke, she was standing across the street from the old Imperial Sugar factory.
Ninety-five graves were unearthed in Sugar Land this summer as construction workers were building a school on property sold to the school district by the Texas prison system.
Taharka was there Sept. 19 as the Task Force on a Convict Lease Memorial was meeting, organized by the city of Sugar Land to deal with the remains. Dozens of NBUF members and supporters rallied outside.
She continued: “These remains need to be honored appropriately. African people with expertise must be involved in all aspects of this. We demand DNA testing be done so that reparations can be made, particularly to the families of these people.”
Taharka added: “This is not just about history from 100 years ago. This is about the foundation of why we as African people are treated the way we are today. We remember Sandra Bland, Mike Brown, Eric Gardner, Trayvon Martin. We remember the Panther 21, the Jena 6, the New York 3. We have the Dallas 9 right now. We are in solidarity with the [national] prisoners’ strike going on. And today we are here fighting for the Sugar Land 95.”