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Atlanta museum plans memorial for forced prison labor victims

On the Nov. 9 edition of "Closer Look," Dr. Calinda Lee discussed the National Center for Civil and Human Rights’ work to educate others about the history of prison labor through a memorial at the Bellwood Quarry in Westside Park.
On the Nov. 9 edition of "Closer Look," Dr. Calinda Lee discussed the National Center for Civil and Human Rights’ work to educate others about the history of prison labor through a memorial at the Bellwood Quarry in Westside Park.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

The head of programs and exhibitions at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights says a former Atlanta mayor and founder of the Chattahoochee Brick Company leased incarcerated people for forced labor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

On Tuesday’s edition of “Closer Look,” Dr. Calinda Lee talked with program host Rose Scott about how Black people were arrested and sentenced for minor crimes, then worked to death through convict leasing in Atlanta.

“Once people were placed in state custody, right, incarcerated in this way, then they were leased out as essentially the property of the state and so they could be leased to private landlords,” Lee said.

Lee also discussed the National Center for Civil and Human Rights’ work to educate others about the history of prison labor through a memorial at the Bellwood Quarry in Westside Park and the goals of the Truth + Transformation initiative.

To listen to the full conversation, click the audio player above.