Save the Chattahoochee Brick Site Save the Chattahoochee Brick Site Save the Chattahoochee Brick Site
Save the Chattahoochee Brick Site
Make Your Voice Be Heard
Save the Chattahoochee Brick Site
Honor Atlanta's Full History
Save the Chattahoochee Brick Site
Protect Atlanta's Waterways

Our Urgent

Cause

Norfolk Southern and Lincoln Energy Solutions are bypassing the protections in Atlanta’s zoning laws to subvert the community’s voice.  By leasing the property to Norfolk Southern to build almost exactly what Lincoln Energy proposed 3 years ago, the two companies are able to ignore community calls to build a meaningful memorial to the victims of convict leasing, rehabilitate the overindustrialized land, and create connective public greenspace for the use of all citizens.

Stop Norfolk Southern

Because of the railroads’ historical privilege with respect to development, their plans will require no public comment or a special use permit to move forward.  In short: by leasing the property to Norfolk Southern, Lincoln Energy Solutions ensures that the land they purchased will be used for exactly what they had intended, and exactly what the surrounding community had expressly opposed, subverting the decision of the City and the will of both its citizens and its environmental, history, and civil rights activists.

Call to Action

Ordinary People Do Extraordinary Things

Drop The Lease

We call on Norfolk Southern to live up to its branding as a “responsible corporate neighbor” and remove itself from the agreement with Lincoln Energy Solutions.

Community Input

We call on the Atlanta City Council to continue to fight for historic and environmental preservation, and denial of unnecessary industrial development without community input.

Develop Meaningfully

We call upon the City of Atlanta to work with the community to facilitate the purchase and development of the property for the public good.

Take a stand for history

An important site of Atlanta’s history is at risk of being lost to the city and its citizens by unnecessary industrial expansion in Northwest Atlanta.  The property, nestled between the city’s significant, yet fragile waterways – Proctor Creek and the Chattahoochee River – was once the site of the Chattahoochee Brick Company, and marks the location of a particularly horrific example of convict labor – a practice in the late 19th and early 20th centuries of leasing imprisoned predominantly Black men and women to toil for years in factories under unspeakable conditions.  

The many indignities visited upon those exploited by the Chattahoochee Brick Company, one of Georgia’s most infamous convict leasing operations, are difficult to imagine. As Douglas Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Slavery by Another Name, so movingly and meticulously documents, Black men and women convicted of minor offenses like jaywalking, vagrancy, and petty theft toiled without pay, adequate food or housing, and endured brutal discipline, all to make the bricks that built Atlanta. There is no reliable count of the number of victims who died on the site, many buried or burned on the Company’s grounds without memorial or marker. Those who did not die often bore the scars of beatings, maimed hands or feet, all as punishment for offenses such as working too slowly, falling ill, or trying to escape the abuse.

The important and largely untold story of convict leasing is one more reminder of the South’s need for a frank racial reckoning, as the nation reconsiders how, where, and for whom we memorialize the past. It is not enough to cast aside statues honoring slave owners and Klansmen; we must raise memorials that bring our full history out of the shadows.  This site of decades of violence gives Atlanta the opportunity to build a place of racial reconciliation. 

However, the vision of a public space and a meaningful memorial, shared by neighbors, businesses, politicians, activists, and community-based organizations, is at risk of being bulldozed by expanding rail operations in an already over-industrialized corner of the city. 

What should we do?

Build Public Space

Memorial

Build a meaningful and significant riverside memorial to the victims of the convict labor system.

Greenspace

Create a public greenspace connecting Northwest Atlanta to other developing trails of the Proctor Creek Greenway, PATH, and Beltline.

Waterways

Rehabilitate this industrial land, protecting the city and river from any further environmental harm.