The women worked in brickyards, in mines, in lumber camps, they built railroads in chain gang camps. They were an essential asset to the development of the post-Civil War industrial economy. And because there was no investment in their reproductive worth, as had been the case during slavery, they would work them to death with no regards for their fertility - which during slavery was the way they'd replenish the labor force. After Emancipation, it was about conviction, not conception.
Historian Talitha LeFlouria examines the incarcerated labor of Black women in Reconstruction-era Georgia - work that rebuilt the South's infrastructure and industrial economy under brutal conditions, enabled by the social language and legal mechanisms around Black lives that persist in America's modern mass incarceration complex.
Talitha is author of the book Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South from UNC Press.