Reginald Moore, the well-known historian and activist who exposed a darker side of Sugar Land's past, has died.
Moore died Friday of heart failure, according to his wife, Marilyn. He was 60.
"Mr. Moore is the reason why hundreds of thousands of people now know about the Sugar Land 95, and why future students in Fort Bend ISD will learn about this important part of our local history," Fort Bend ISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said in a statement. "He was a powerful voice for the voiceless and his advocacy will continue to impact lives for generations to come."
Moore may be best known for his work to raise awareness about the Texas prison system's convict-leasing system, which provided prisoners to plantation owners who labored on farms and in other industries. It was a program phased out in the early 20th century. Sugar Land was once home to tens of thousands of acres of prison farm land and countless convicts worked in the system. Moore's research led to historic recognition for the Old Imperial Farm Cemetery.
"His presence had made people more aware of the fact out in Sugar Land there's cemeteries in a lot of different places," said Professor Ken Brown, a University of Houston anthropologist in 2018.
Moore attended Yates High School in Houston and attended the then-University of Southwestern Louisiana before going to work as a longshoreman and later as a prison guard for the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice, according to an extensive 2018 story in Texas Monthly.
Moore's interest in the history of the area's past was piqued when he worked at TDCJ's Jester Unit in Richmond, he told the magazine.
"It reminded me of a plantation, the way the guards treated the inmates," Moore said. "You could see and feel the oppression. Even before I learned the history, I felt it."
When the bodies of 95 African-Americans were discovered, Moore was at the front of the efforts to give them proper burials.
"Its been an ongoing fight for a couple years since those bodies were found and now the fight is trying to make sure that they're dignified and buried in proper way with the judges order and community input," Moore told ABC13 in 2019.
This article was originally published by Community Impact Newspaper's media partner ABC13.