On this day, April 8, in 1911, a coal mine explosion in Littleton, Ala., claimed the lives of 128 men -- 122 of whom were convicts loaned from prisons.

Of the prisoners killed at the Banner Coal Mine that day, all but five were black.

Alabama's controversial convict-lease program was a profitable arrangement for the mining industry and the state.

Mining accidents were common in Alabama, with more than 1,000 deaths between 1900 and 1910. Most of those killed were black, and lawmakers eventually moved to end the exploitative system, which was finally abolished in 1928.

-Scott McCabe