Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children

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Publisher:
iHeartPodcast Network

Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children

4.8/5

Critic Rating

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. Peabody-nominated UNREFORMED is the story of how this reform school derailed the lives of thousands of Black children in Alabama for decades and what happened af...


Critic Reviews

Score: 5

Sarah Larson • New Yorker Sep 29, 2023

"“Unreformed,” a stunning and exhaustively researched series from the journalist Josie Duffy Rice...like a punishment known as the Rock Pile, almost dreamlike in its surreal cruelty. It’s an often excruciating listen, but the presence of several of the institution’s survivors, including the renowned artist and musician Lonnie Holley, offers some beauty in the darkness."

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Score: 5

Nicholas Quah • Vulture Jun 6, 2023

"Patiently reported, Unreformed joins an emerging subgenre of recent audio docs focused on state-run institutions designed to subjugate vulnerable populations…"

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Score: 4

The Crime Writers Squad • Crime Writers On May 4, 2023

"Host Josie Duffy Rice brings powerful stories from former students of Mount Meigs in "Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children." While not perfect (the series is packed almost too tightly with information to be processed) it paints a troubling picture of intergenerational, institutional trauma."

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Score: 5

Keelin • Mentally? A Magpie. Apr 2, 2023

"The reporting is smooth and gentle, contrasting the content being discussed. Josie Duffy Rice takes care with this subject, not shying from the rough edges. Rather, the care she takes is highlighting the atrocity of this place by the smooth nature of the production. It is carefully calculated, paced, and taken on with immense care. I commend this reporting on not just a level of justice, but also humanity for those survivors of Mount Meigs."

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Score: 5

Dan Schank • Erie Reader Feb 16, 2023

"Mercifully, the podcast avoids wallowing in the details of their suffering, shifting instead to how they alerted the world to what they endured. And their individual stories are fascinating. Rice excels at connecting the horrors of Mount Megis to the ways that African American children are mistrusted, abused, and criminalized in the present. Unreformed requires a strong stomach, but its story will stick to your bones."

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Score: 5

Lauren Passell • Podcast The Newsletter Jan 23, 2023

"And if we’ve learned anything from all the podcasts coming out about Canada’s residential school system (Stolen and Kuper Island) we’ve learned about generational trauma, how the nightmares don’t stop with the people who experienced them first hand. I didn’t even know about Mt. Meigs. Did you? This is vital listening for the education, the need to be confronted with this. The reporting is blunt and captivating. It’s blowing one of America’s dirty secrets up."

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