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In 1968, police arrested five Black girls dressed in oversized military fatigues in Montgomery. The girls were runaways, escaping from a state-run reform school called the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children in Mount Meigs, Alabama. The girls were determined to tell someone about the abuse they’d suffered there: physical and sexual violence, unlivable facilities, and grueling labor in the fields surrounding the school. It was, as several former students called it, a slave camp.
UNREFORMED is the story of how this reform school derailed the lives of thousands of Black children in Alabama for decades and what happened after those five girls found someone willing to blow the whistle. Host Josie Duffy Rice investigates the history of the school at the tail end of the Civil Rights movement in Alabama and speaks to former students who are still haunted by their experience but had the will to survive.