On Friday, November 15, 2019, Congressman Al Green released the following statement, condemning the Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) memorial event for the Sugar Land 95:
“In February of 2019, I began meeting with key stakeholders in the Fort Bend community regarding the excavation of 95 bodies in 2018 during the construction of the James Reese Career and Technical Center in Sugar Land, Texas. These bodies were victims of the cruel and unusual convict leasing system that was perpetuated in some states once slavery ended as a way to continue reaping the benefits from African Americans’ labor. It was truly slavery by another name.
“I have joined my colleagues from various levels of government as well as the activist community in an unyielding fight for these bodies to be properly reburied and for the lives of the individuals we now honorably reference as the Sugar Land 95 to be adequately memorialized. State lawmakers – believing the district would give land where the bodies were discovered to the county – were fortunate to pass and have signed by the governor H.B. 4179. This legislation granted Fort Bend County the necessary jurisdiction to own and operate a cemetery for the bodies upon reinterment. Although the county and school district were working toward an interlocal agreement, the actions of FBISD and Superintendent Charles Dupre to proceed without an agreement with the country are greatly disappointing. Their actions reflect a deliberate disregard for the work so many have done to not only pay tribute to the Sugar Land 95 but also to restore community faith during this turbulent process.
“In the wake of recent discoveries, I will not be in attendance for the less than honorable ground blessing ceremony taking place Sunday, November 17, 2019, and no one from my staff will attend in my place. I applaud Attorney Michael Harris for the commendable position he has taken in resigning as Chair of the Sugar Land 95 Planning and Memorialization Committee due to the district’s hasty and inappropriate decision-making. I also salute Representatives Rick Miller, Ron Reynolds, John Zerwas, and Phil Stephenson, Senators Borris Miles, Joan Huffman, and Lois Kolkhorst, as well as Governor Greg Abbott for their bipartisan work to quickly enact the legislation that catalyzed the potential for agreement. I stand with activists and colleagues who have persisted in this fight in calling for the cancellation of this event as well as the reburial and strongly urge the district to work with the appropriate Fort Bend County leaders to consummate their original agreement.”