Founded in 1846, the Imperial Sugar Company received its original name. As those enslaved or released from Huntsville prison the old sugar Imperial Farm Plantation was a great business for those who had no place to work. The Imperial Sugar Farm was considered a new form of slavery due to recently released housed slaves and former prisoners. A 10 year cemetery battle continues with local historian Reginald Moore and the Fort Bend ISD who purchased the land. A few years ago, Fort Bend and it construction crews discovered a gravesite and recently uncovered 95 slaves and workers. Mr. Moore, Dr. Ray Barnett, and group of concern citizens are currently suing the Fort Bend ISD in the 434th Texas District Court, under Judge James Shoemaker. Judge Shoemaker and the Texas Historical Commission have granted an archeological dig to uncover the remains a find an interment. Prior to this ruling, the Fort Bend ISD rushed before a trial was set to exhume the sacred remains.

Currently, the 95 remains are stored in a trailer near James Reese Career Tech Center Campus, the proposed new school site. This case is scheduled to come up in January 2019, but it will be a closed hearing; though it has been a new court date scheduled for later date possibly March 2019 and a decision will be made hopefully May 2019. In the meantime, while this is unconscionable, inhumane, a disgrace as well as illegal to desecrate a sacred corpses on it burial ground. Dr. A. Ray Barnett and his team of experts on Black Cemeteries across the State Of Texas have been called to investigate this atrocity. In a recent article written by USA Today, Dr. Barnett was asked his personal feelings on this matter and what can be done? He replied, “First, my feelings is I am appalled, angered by such an act of desecration on burial grounds. Second, I will not stop fighting and raising hell until those sacred remains have a new burial place and can rest in peace, never to be disturbed again.

Finally, I also feel that my organization, now that it is statewide, I can continue to be an advocate of social justice by filing a lawsuit against the Fort Bend ISD. Now, considering we are waiting an additional six months, and according to Texas law Access to Cemetery: Texas law requires that any person who wishes to visit a cemetery or private burial grounds where there is no public access shall have the right to reasonable ingress and egress over your property to visit the cemetery during reasonable hours. [Texas Health & Safety Code §711.041]. The law also provides a process for negotiating a written agreement between the property owner(s) and those wishing access to a cemetery without public access that would be filed with and enforced by the Texas Funeral Service Commission. [Texas Administrative Code §205.2]. Our historical and ancestral burial grounds are due the same respect in America as those of the Native American burial rights. Moreover, as Native American burial grounds are historic sites, so should our slave cemeteries. The African American Historic Preservation League of Texas (AAHPL) is a nonprofit organization created to protect our rich and multifaceted history of African American across the State Texas. In, January, 2019, we will announce Barbara Jordan-The African American Texas History Project.

Story by Rev. A. Dr. Ray Barnett, Ph.D

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