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Convict Lease Labor and The Chattahoochee Brick Company Descendants 2nd Annual Commemoration

Chattahoochee Brick.jpg
The Chattahoochee Brick Company thrived on convict lease labor. Donna Stephens founded an organization to commemorate those that worked and died on the site.

This week on The Local Take, I reached out to the Chattahoochee Brick Company Descendants organization founded by Donna Stephens. Many stories from our past are coming to light as history becomes impossible to hide. From the destruction of Black-owned and run towns including Tulsa, OK, Rosewood, FL, and outside Durham in Hayti, NC. Another story has come to light surrounding convict labor in recent times. The SLAVE Codes became BLACK Codes, and young African American men and boys were locked up often for loitering and then leased out to for-profit businesses to work for little or no wages. The Chattahoochee Brick Company was a benefactor of convict lease labor. This systemic and institutional imprisonment of African American men continues to this day. When it came to light that a developer wanted to put a bio-fuel center on the property, residents came together to protest the desecration of the site where many men went and never returned.

I asked Stephens how she came to learn about this story. She mentions the PBS documentary based on the book by Douglas Blackmon - Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black America from the Civil War to World War II. The tool used to re-enslave hinged on convict lease labor and was prominent in most Southern states. The story of the Chattahoochee Brick Company, a few miles from her home, was included in the documentary.

Stephens shares that the National Reparations Committee has a 10-point plan, and one of the points includes preserving Black Heritage landmarks. Additionally, it is suggested that convict lease labor drained millions, possibly billions of dollars of wealth from the Black community.

The 2nd Annual Commemoration of those forced into the convict lease labor system at the Chattahoochee Brick Company and in other places will take place on Saturday, April 16th at 1PM. Stephens shares that Mayor Andre Dickens and Pastor Jamal Bryant, among others, will be on hand. Stephens also speaks about environmental justice and the over-saturation of fuel and other businesses in the area where the site exists.

For more information about the Chattahoochee Brick Company
For more information about the Chattahoochee Brick Company Descendants 
Listen to our conversations with Douglas Blackmon