Fort Bend County officials address 'Sugar Land 95' cemetery following new legislation

By Cathy Hernandez - Reporter, Sofia Ojeda - Anchor/Reporter

SUGAR LAND, Texas - What we know

In 2018, Fort Bend ISD construction workers found human remains at the site of the James Reese Career and Technical Center in Sugar Land.

With the help of the Texas Historical Commission, they discovered the burial sites were those of African American convicts released from the prison system and forced to work on a local plantation, even after slavery was abolished.

Some as old as 70, some as young as 14. The Texas Historical Society believes the remains are more than 150 years old.

"This is a human rights issue and when we have human rights issues, we should do what we are doing and that is set aside the lines come together to do the right thing," said U.S. Rep. Al Green.

What's new?

Fort Bend County and Fort Bend ISD are one step closer to determining how they’ll memorialize the 95 people found buried in a field at the construction site.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill last week allowing the county to own and operate the cemetery.

"When I think about those dark days the men and we know at least one female experienced, that we now know as the Sugar Land 95, the horrific conditions they suffered modern-day slavery, the conditions were immoral people that were emancipated they were supposed to be free," U.S. Rep. Ron Reynolds said.

What's next?

The district and the county are working together to decide how to honor those whose remains were discovered on the land.

“It’s about doing the right thing for these individuals from the first part of our century who need to be commemorated in the right way,” said District 26 State Rep. Rick Miller.

FBISD also planned to incorporate the cemetery's history into its curriculum.

The school board could talk more about final plans at its board meeting on Monday night.

“We look forward to the day we can truly celebrate and honor them in a very appropriate way as we reenter their bodies into a final resting place,” said FBISD Superintendent Dr. Charles Dupre.

WATCH: Fort Bend County officials address cemetery following new legislation 

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