July 27, 2023
(Episode 8) Thousands of people died under the convict lease system in Texas, and its effects can still be seen and felt today. Their descendants hope the truth leads to healing and understanding. The full transcript and a collection of materials, letters and reports are available on our Sugar Land podcast website.Listen
July 20, 2023
(Episode 7) How did the remains of 95 people in unmarked graves end up in Sugar Land to begin with? How one man’s remarkable life and tragic death revealed the truth about convict leasing in Texas. The full transcript and a collection of materials, letters and reports are available on our Sugar Land podcast website.Listen
July 13, 2023
(Episode 6) Four years after the cemetery was discovered, the Sugar Land 95 still haven’t been identified. The group in charge of researching their remains has made little progress, but refuses to cede control. Is it conspiracy or negligence? The full transcript and a collection of materials, letters and reports are available on our Sugar […]Listen
July 6, 2023
(Episode 5) Fort Bend ISD says it’s not going to fund any more research on the Sugar Land 95, so a familiar group takes control. But is that group the best for the job? Plus, we start our own genealogical journey. The full transcript and a collection of materials, letters and reports are available on […]Listen
June 29, 2023
(Episode 4) The fight over how to memorialize the Sugar Land 95 has taken its toll on activist Reginald Moore. As his health declines, momentum slows. Research on the cemetery is finally made public, and the findings aren’t just surprising — they’re unbelievable. The full transcript and a collection of materials, letters and reports are […]Listen
June 25, 2023
Kai Wright of the public radio show Notes from America recently sat down with Sugar Land host Brittney Martin to talk about the history of convict leasing and why she never learned about it in school. Notes from America is a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future. […]Listen
June 22, 2023
(Episode 3) The fight of the century is unfolding in Sugar Land. Should the bodies be moved so construction could continue, or should they be reburied where they were found? Alliances are made and broken, Reginald Moore leads a coup, and in the end, one side claims a clear victory. The full transcript and a […]Listen
June 16, 2023
(Episode 2) As archeologists uncover more graves, a new person is added to the team. Catrina Banks Whitley specializes in studying human remains. And after a few months, she thinks she knows who these people might be. The full transcript and a collection of materials, letters and reports are available on our Sugar Land podcast […]Listen
This is not another true crime podcast—it just starts out like one.
In 2018, construction crews building a new school in Sugar Land, Texas uncovered human remains. In the months that followed, more and more graves were unearthed, eventually totaling 95. Though officials quickly determined this was a historic cemetery—not a serial killer’s dumping ground—the discovery still threatened to sour the city’s sweet image.
Sugar Land was home to the largest convict labor camps in the state, where hundreds of Black men were sent to harvest sugarcane in the decades following the Civil War. State and local officials were warned there were Black bodies buried unceremoniously across the county, but they didn’t look for them then, and they’re not looking now.
Sugar Land is a production of The Texas Newsroom, a public radio journalism collaboration that includes NPR, KERA in North Texas, Houston Public Media, KUT in Austin, Texas Public Radio in San Antonio and other stations across the state.
Co-Host, Executive Producer
Brittney is an independent journalist based in Houston. She’s an experienced investigative reporter, researcher and longform narrative writer. She was a member of The Dallas Morning News staff named 2017 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Breaking News Reporting, and she frequently contributes to The Washington Post, Texas Monthly, The Daily Beast and others.
Naomi Reed, Ph. D.
Co-Host, Senior Producer
An anthropology professor at Southwestern University, Naomi’s research focuses on race, education, cultural heritage and criminal justice, and she has spent the last decade conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Sugar Land. She was raised in Missouri City and grew up in the shadows of Sugar Land’s wealth and reputation as the “sweeter” place to live in Southwest Houston.
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