City of Atlanta buys old brick company site, where convict leasing persisted

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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) – Right now, it looks like an old, abandoned brickyard, but the old Chattahoochee Brick Company site holds a history mired in blood, sweat, and tears.

“This is the location of the Chattahoochee Brick Company. It was owned by one of the former mayors of Atlanta,” said Kwame-Osheyefo Kalimara, an attendee at the ceremony Saturday.

The company used the convict leasing system, forcing African-Americans to work in horrible conditions, with no regard for their health.

“It filled a lot of pockets of the corporations that also did business with the mayor. Some of the people who were leased here were actually buried here,” said Kalimara.

The city of Atlanta bought the property and held a ceremony commemorating the achievement on Saturday. The city will create a park at the site, with direct access to the Chattahoochee River.

“The bricks were built on the blood and sweat of people who did not have a choice to work here,” said attendee Patricia Burns.

The site was initially zoned for industrial use, but now the city will preserve it. Mayor Andre Dickens said he will be thinking of some ways to reimagine the space and to pay homage to the deceased.

“American history is also painful and this is one way we can reconcile with our past and build unity,” said Burns.

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