Tonya Groomes

Tonya Groomes

Tonya Groomes, a chemical engineer in Atlanta, had a relative named Green Cottingham, who at age 22 was caught up in the Alabama convict lease system in 1908; he was arrested and charged with vagrancy in Shelby County, Alabama, then leased by the county to the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company, which sent him to work in the brutal Pratt Mines outside Birmingham. Tonya has done extensive research on Green’s case and the horrific treatment of those incarcerated in the convict leasing system. She has also traced her family’s roots all the way back to an Alabama slave named Scipio, who was born in Africa in 1802 and was brought to this country on a slave ship. Tonya is featured in Douglas Blackmon’s groundbreaking book Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II; she is also featured in Blackmon’s documentary film Slavery by Another Name.

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