Archive for Human Genetics League

Victim of Clarence Gamble funded sterilization program dies

Posted in Clarence Gamble, Elaine Riddick, Eugenics, Maafa21, Margaret Sanger with tags , , , , , , , on September 20, 2010 by saynsumthn

The Winston-Salem Journal reported that a 90-year-old North Carolina woman sterilized involuntarily by the state when she was a homeless teenager died as officials continued to drag out the process of approving compensation for the sterilization victims.

The family was targeted because they were homeless , social workers would target two of his daughters for sterilization. The family was white, although the state program would target blacks of modest means in its last years.

The two children were eventually placed in foster homes after their parents died. One daughter who was raped at the home, learned she was pregnant from the rape. Social workers pressed her father writing that she was pregnant out of wedlock, anemic, her mother was feeble-minded, and her father had been a heavy drinker.

The state sterilization program was barely 5 years old, but it was gaining steam, and would soon be supported by powerful leaders including a man by the name of Clarence Gamble.

With the passage of the North Carolina Sterilization Act in 1929, North Carolina’s sterilization program began. In 1933, the act was declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it did not allow an appeals process. In the same year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law allowing an appeal process and created the Board of Eugenics to oversee sterilizations.
Created in Pasadena, California in 1928, the Human Betterment Foundation sponsored and conducted research relating to sterilization’s physiological, mental, and social effects. Closely aligned with the Human Betterment Foundation, the Human Betterment League of North Carolina used mass media and advertisements to promote the implementation of sterilization procedures. Founded by James G. Hanes in 1947, the Human Betterment League included members, such as Alice Shelton Gray, a trained nurse, and Dr. Clarence Gamble, an heir to the Procter and Gamble fortune.

The League funded a newspaper article campaign to convince the public that sterilizations were needed. In the literature, sterilization was not presented as a form of punishment but as a protection. The public was informed that most of the “unfit” did not live in mental institutions but were in the community and “breeding,” according to the literature, with normal people. The League persuasively convinced North Carolinians that the sterilizations must occur as soon as possible.

After World War II, many states dismantled their sterilization programs; they feared that their eugenics efforts might be compared to Nazi Germany. In North Carolina, however, sterilization increased by nearly four-fifths. By 1957, the League distributed more than 575,000 pieces of mail which promoted the sterilization program. During the 1960s, social workers were given the authority to recommend sterilizations, and the eugenics program expanded to include welfare recipients. These factors contributed greatly to the increase in sterilizations among African Americans and women.

During the early 1970s, the League stopped promoting eugenic sterilizations and started producing educational material regarding birth control and genetic counseling. The League’s name changed to The Human Genetics League. It went out of existence in 1988.

According to the North Carolina Winston-Salem Journal, “Clarence Gamble who helped found the Human Betterment League of North Carolina in 1947 did so to promote eugenic sterilization. Journal research shows a long history of abuses in the N.C. sterilization program – abuses that Gamble consistently glossed over..” Gamble wanted sterilizations to increase rather than decrease, and increase they did.

Clarence Gamble, heavily funded the North Carolina Eugenics Society. Click Here : Clarence Gamble.

Mattie’s family was powerless to resist. Because she was a minor, her father signed the consent form. Doctors at Duke University Hospital sterilized Mattie after she gave birth to a daughter. They told her she was having her tubes tied because she was “too small” to have additional children. Mattie never realized that the procedure had been ordered by the state.

Shortly thereafter, social workers concentrated on Mattie’s little sister, April. The petition to sterilize her listed her as a “pauper” whose family had received relief payments from the government for 10 years or more. The petition noted that she’d been guilty of “immorality and begging” and “liked to wear overalls.” The form also noted that her sister Mattie was feeble-minded, even though that had never been noted in the petition to sterilize her. April was sterilized at Winston-Salem’s City Memorial Hospital in December 1936, just a few days before Christmas. She was 13, and was told she was having her appendix removed.

Mattie made a decent life for herself, working in factories, raising her daughter, and getting married.

Her sister April found out when she was in her 30s that she had been sterilized by the state, and told family members about it. She drifted from job to job and relationship to relationship, no doubt haunted by the sterilization. She died in the 1990s.

Mattie lived on. She resided with her daughter’s family through much of her last years. Her daughter worked hard and taught her children to as well, giving the lie to the state eugenics program’s theory that sterilization was necessary to stop “undesirables” from producing children who would become wards of the state. Mattie’s grandchildren found her to be a joy, a kind and caring grandmother.

Mattie spent the last months of her life suffering from dementia in a nursing home, apparently never realizing that the state was considering compensation for those sterilized. A few months ago, her granddaughter, wondering if she’d been sterilized by the state like her sister said she was, began tracking down records that showed the state ordered sterilizations for both sisters. Like so many other victims, Mattie died while state officials dragged their feet.

Her granddaughter feels for all the victims of the program. “I just think it’s a sad mark on our history.”

Many victim’s of the Clarence Gamble funded sterilization program have come forward to tell their story.

Listen to what the State of North Carolina’s Eugenic Board (Funded by Sanger supporter- Clarence Gamble) did to this “African American woman” : Elaine Riddick

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This Interview is from the 2.5 hour film called Maafa21 and would be worth watching if you are interested in more on Eugenics, especially how African Americans were targeted during this time. Gamble also supported Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control Movement. Sanger and many of her board members and presidents were members of the American Eugenics Society.