Black Eugenics victims react to possible compensation

Watch Maafa21 – learn how eugenics was connected to Planned Parenthood:

janice_sadie_eugenicsJanice Black (right) with her friend and caretaker Sadie Long at their home in Charlotte.

Janice Black was one of the last victims of the North Carolina Eugenics Board which disbanded in 1974. Black was 18 that year and living with her stepmother. She has a big smile and a contagious chuckle, but her developmental disabilities led the Eugenics Board to conclude that she wouldn’t be a fit parent and ordered her sterilized.

She kept it a secret until last year, when North Carolina state leaders began talking seriously about compensating eugenics victims. Speaking out was cathartic for Black.

“It kind of gave me some relief – like getting a monkey off your back,” she says, chuckling. No amount of money can make it right, but she says what the state has done now – “it helps some.”

Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina lawmakers allocated $10 million to be split among the living eugenics victims who agree to come forward and have their claims verified in the eugenics board records. Of 7,600 in all, some 1,500 victims are estimated to still be alive. Only 177 have come forward so far, which means Black could get as much as $50,000, but possibly far less. Victims have until next June to apply for compensation, but checks won’t be cut until June 2015.

Republican State Representative Nelson Dollar pleaded with his legislative colleagues to “right a great moral wrong.”

“Never in the last century of our state, has the power of government been so misused,” said Dollar. “Citizens mutilated, maimed and scarred for life.”

Rita Thompson Swords agrees. She was sterilized at 21 after giving birth to her second child as an unwed mother. She says her father was coerced into signing the form from another hospital room where he was undergoing treatment for brain cancer.

Coercion and uninformed consent are common themes in the state’s eugenics records. Victims were branded “morons.”

“It took a lot of years to get over it you know,” says Swords, who lives in Matthews. “I don’t see how they had the right, or how they could have done anybody like that.”

The legislative decision to compensate victims like Swords is the culmination of more than a decade’s crusade for former North Carolina State Representative Larry Womble. He first heard about the eugenics program from a reporter in 2002.

ap120110135056Sterilization victim Lela Dunston, 63 (seated front), following a meeting of the Governor’s Eugenics Compensation Task Force in North Carolina in 2012.

In 2002 North Carolina became one of the first states to publicly apologize for practicing eugenics.

The movement believed that poverty, promiscuity, and alcoholism were inherited traits, and that without them the gene pool could be improved.

Some of the victims were as young as 10 and chosen because they were promiscuous or did not get along with their schoolmates.

North Carolina is one of about a half-dozen states to apologize for past eugenics programs, but it is alone in trying to put together a plan to compensate victims.

elaine riddick

Elaine Riddick was raped and impregnated at 13 years old and, after giving birth to her son Tony, she was sterilized against her will.

Testimony from the video Maafa21

Riddick, who was sterilised without her consent as a teenager after she was raped and had a child, has led the campaign for compensation and welcomed the decision. “I tip my hat to North Carolina. Finally they came to their senses and decided to do what’s right,” she said.

2 Responses to “Black Eugenics victims react to possible compensation”

  1. […] has covered Elaine Riddick’s pursuit for justice for her eugenics sterilization for years. So it is an […]

  2. […] founder Margaret Sanger…also funded the North Carolina Eugenics Society which sterilized Elaine Riddick and many black women as well. Click Here : Clarence […]

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