A TRIP OF A LIFETIME! S.O.J.E.S.'s Journey to Justice Tour in September 2022 was a huge success
This was a journey every American should take. Thank you to all those who went with S.O.J.E.S. on the Journey to Justice Tour to Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, Alabama, over the Labor Day weekend to honor the labor of the Sugar Land 95 and other African-Americans who built Fort Bend County. We got to see some of the most moving, important and beautiful museums and landmarks in the world devoted to telling the story of African-Americans in America and, particularly, the South.
The journey bridged generations: We had mothers with sons and daughters, fathers with sons, and friends and those interested in learning more about this country's struggle for Civil Rights for all Americans. What a monumental trip!
Included in the tour: The Birmingham Civil Rights Museum, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, The Legacy Museum and the National Center for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. All three places provided good insight into how to present history in a truly grand, memorable and strong way.
We also took a good walk across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma. We trod the path made decades earlier of Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and multitude of other good "foot soldiers" who did not let violence from law enforcement deter them. We were humbled and honored to do it. S.O.J.E.S. thanks the "mighty 18" who made this joyous trip. Look for more journeys and activities to come.
S.O.J.E.S.'s A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2022 Award-winning author was the keynote speaker at Black History Month event on the fourth anniversary of the discovery of the Sugar Land 95 CLICK BELOW TO SEE PHOTOS AND NEWS STORY ABOUT THE EVENT:
Matthew J. Mancini, Ph.D., author of the book One Dies, Get Another: Convict Leasing in the American South: 1866-1928, was the keynote speaker at A Day of Remembrance, S.O.J.E.S.'s Black History Month community event commemorating the fourth anniversary of the discovery of the Sugar Land 95.
On February 19, 2018, the first of the remains of at least 95 victims of convict leasing in Sugar Land was uncovered by a backhoe operator helping to construct the James Reese Career and Technical Center, a Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) technical high school.
Since the discovery in 2018, a variety of efforts have begun to learn more about - and properly honor - the Sugar Land 95. These events include a news conference by S.O.J.E.S. and community leaders, a large Juneteenth Celebration by S.O.J.E.S. in 2021, and the recently announced plans to create an outdoor learning space and Sugar Land 95 cemetery enhancements by the FBISD (see story below).
Mancini's speech focused on one of the most exploitative labor systems in America’s history. His book describes the seemingly uneven enforcement of convict leasing across state lines, which bound the South together for more than half a century in reliance on an institution of almost-unbelievable brutality.
In addition, Mancini's book describes the prisoners' daily existence, profiles the individuals - specifically, Edward H. Cunningham and Littleberry A. Ellis - who leased convicts, and also reveals both the inhumanity of the leasing laws and also the centrality of race relations in the establishment and perpetuation of convict leasing.
Mancini is Professor Emeritus of American Studies at Saint Louis University as well as department chair. He has worked as a Professor of History at Missouri State University and served as a Department head, and served as a Professor of American Studies at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary. He also has served as a visiting professor at Rice University.
The recipient of several national teaching and scholarly awards, Mancini earned his Ph.D. from Emory University and an B.A. in English from Fordham University.
JUNETEENTH PROCLAMATION FOR JUSTICE FOR THE SUGAR LAND 95 A SUCCESS More than 250 people attended S.O.J.E.S.'s inaugural community tribute to the Sugar Land 95 at FBISD's James Reese Career and Technical Center on Saturday, June 19, 2021. It was a spectacularly diverse and glorious public debut for S.O.J.E.S., which announced plans to build a museum and educational center on the sacred site of the Sugar Land 95. Learn more here.