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FBISD Begins Phase Two of Sugar Land 95 Memorialization Project

(FORT BEND ISD) – Fort Bend ISD has begun phase two of the project to memorialize the Sugar Land 95, which includes the design of an outdoor learning plaza at the site of the Bullhead Convict Labor Camp Cemetery located on the James Reese Career and Technical Education campus.

The first phase, which was completed in 2021, is an exhibit inside the CTE campus.

The district recently held a symposium to update the community on the Sugar Land 95 Memorialization Project and the ongoing studies to identify the 95 individuals buried at the site and their descendants.


Attendees at the Oct. 1 event had the opportunity to provide feedback on the initial draft of the schematic design for the outdoor learning area and cemetery.


Attendees also heard from the experts leading the ongoing studies to identify the Sugar Land 95 and their descendants. To date, DNA has been extracted from 99 potential descendants and it is currently being studied. Eight individuals have been identified and notified that they are possible descendants.

FBISD students provided guided tours of the exhibit and cemetery during the event. The exhibit contains artifacts that were recovered during the excavation of the Sugar Land 95 and includes a wedding ring, playing dice and shackles.


Background


In 2018, construction at the site of Fort Bend ISD’s new James Reese Career and Technical Center unearthed an historic burial site where 95 individuals were interred and are believed to have been part of a convict-leasing labor program that began in the late 1800’s.

The remains of the Sugar Land 95 were re-interred into their original resting places in November 2019. Each burial was provided with a gravestone to mark the exact location of each grave found during the exhumation.


An historic cemetery designation was given in February 2021, by the Texas Historical Commission, which designated the Bullhead Convict Labor Camp Cemetery an Historical Cemetery in Texas.


This designation provides for the preservation of the site as an important historical and cultural resource in Texas. As of February 2022, the historic site was selected to be one of 15 recipients of an Undertold Marker, compliments of the Texas Historical Commission.

The Oct. 1 symposium was sponsored by the Fort Bend Education Foundation and Fluor Corporation.





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