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Antishemetism: Norfolk Southern

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

Norfolk Southern Corporation was incorporated in 1980 in Virginia. Prior to its incorporation, Norfolk Southern along with CSX, Union Pacific, and Canadian National owned lines that were built and operated with slave labor.

Sources say, "Corporate records of the time show railroads bought slaves or leased them from their owners, usually for clearing, grading and laying tracks. Enslaved workers frequently appear in annual reports as line-item expenses, referred to variously as 'hands,' 'colored hands,' 'Negro hires,' 'Negro property' and 'slaves.'

Other sources write, "Slaves 'formed the backbone of the South's railway labor force of track repairmen, station helpers, brakemen, firemen and sometimes even enginemen,' wrote University of Pennsylvania historian Walter Licht in the book Working for the Railroad."

'The Mobile and Girard Railroad, now owned by Norfolk Southern, advertised for slaves in 1856. Corporate records of the time show railroads bought or leased slaves.

Norfolk Southern has declined to comment whether their rail lines were built with slave labor.

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