Apr 11, 2014 10:57:00 AM
Eugenic sterilization programs existed in America in at least 31 states. Many of the women forced or coerced into sterilization were black.
From 1929 to 1974, the state of North Carolina forcibly sterilized thousands of people who were deemed to be mentally handicapped, promiscuous or unfit to have children.
Life Dynamics has documented the history of the American Eugenics Society including North Carolina’s forced sterilization program in their film, Maafa21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America.
Eugenics Society member, Margaret Sanger, who later founded Planned Parenthood, also advocated sterilization of the so-called unfit.
In 1950 Sanger advocated eugenic sterilization in a personal letter she wrote to Katharine Dexter McCormick, an heir to the International Harvester fortune who used her immense wealth to fund the development of the birth-control pill.
Sanger wrote, “I consider that the world and almost our civilization for the next twenty-five years, is going to depend upon a simple, cheap, safe contraceptive to be used in poverty stricken slums, jungles, and among the most ignorant people. Even this will not be sufficient, because I believe that now, immediately; there should be national sterilization for certain dysgenic types of our population who are being encouraged to breed and would die out were the government not feeding them.”
Sanger’s connections to eugenics was nothing new. She had long praised their ideologies and published several articles on the topic in her Birth Control Review.
In 1935, Sanger’s American Birth Control League published a resolution to unite with the American Eugenics Society.
Mark Crutcher, President of Life Dynamics elaborates, “These ties between eugenics and Planned Parenthood’s founder were so well established that Sanger, who was a long standing member of the American Eugenics Society, once pursued a plan to merge the American Birth Control League, or Planned Parenthood as it was later called, with the American Eugenics Society. However, despite Sanger’s strong support for the merger, it would eventually be rejected by the leadership of the American Eugenics Society. Sanger then pushed a proposal that would have combined the publications of the two organizations into one magazine. But again, that idea was also rejected by the American Eugenics Society.”
In 1939, Sanger described the American Birth Control League’s Negro Project in a letter to fellow eugenicist, Clarence Gamble, “The minister’s work is also important and also he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation as to our ideals and the goal that we hope to reach. We do not want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
Gamble was a heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune and a major financial backer of Sanger’s.
Gamble was also a director of Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League, which later changed its name to Planned Parenthood.
In 1947, Gamble called for the expansion of North Carolina’s State’s sterilization program saying that for every feeble minded person sterilized, 40 more were polluting and degrading the bloodlines of future generation with their defective genes.
Research from North Carolina’s Winston-Salem Journal reveals a long history of abuses in the N.C. sterilization program — abuses that Gamble consistently glossed over. According to the Journal, “Gamble wanted sterilizations to increase rather than decrease, and increase they did.”
But merely wanting the sterilizations to happen was not enough for this Margaret Sanger supporter. Clarence Gamble put his money where his eugenics views were and actually funded the North Carolina Eugenics Board that sterilized many blacks, including 14 year old Elaine Riddick.
This is her story excerpted from Life Dynamics’ film: Maafa21:
Shortly after this interview in Maafa21, Elaine Riddick testified before the North Carolina State Legislature in a successful effort to receive compensation for the sterilization.
“They cut me open like I was a hog,” Elaine Riddick testified tearfully, “I didn’t even know nothing about this stuff.”
Riddick told the lawmakers that her only crime was being poor, BLACK, and from a bad home environment.
North Carolina was not the only state whose eugenics programs were influenced by friends of Sanger or Planned Parenthood. In some parts of the country, Planned Parenthood was closely associated with these state eugenics boards and was often a referral agency for them.
A fact which is rarely reported is that, in many places, Planned Parenthood was one and the same as the Eugenics Society.
Later the Arkansas Eugenics Association would become the Arkansas State Affiliate of Planned Parenthood and Cornish would be named its executive director.
Supporters and directors of Margaret Sanger were, like her, entrenched in eugenics. Sanger’s backers knew that they were promoting views that would limit the population of a certain group or race of people, primarily African Americans. Their eugenics agenda reached into the lives of innocent and unsuspecting victims like Elaine Riddick with programs of coerced sterilization. But Elaine represents merely a fraction of the black women affected by eugenics.
Over the years the names of these organizations may have changed but their eugenics agenda remains the same and are targeting more unsuspecting people today.
“Euphemisms and sterilization target code words, for example, “feebleminded”, were used to describe Black women like me, Elaine Riddick. I was forcibly sterilized at the age of 14 years under North Carolina’s inhumane forced sterilization policy. A policy that was derived from Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood population control handbook, which spread across the United States by her loyal band of eugenicists and lobbying our elected officials,” Elaine Riddick wrote recently.
For more on the forced sterilization of Black women and the eugenics movement, watch Maafa21.