After a years-long campaign to provide some semblance of justice to approximately 7600 persons who were victimized by a state program that required "undesirable" citizens to be forcibly sterilized, North Carolina has established a $10 million allocation in its new budget that will provide financial compensation to the victims of that program, which ended in 1974.
As a result of laws encouraged by the racial-purity-inspired eugenics movement, a pseudo-science popularized in the early 20th century by powerful groups like the Carnegie Institute and Rockefeller Foundation, persons deemed by the state to be unworthy of reproduction were compelled by force of law to be surgically sterilized.
Typical of those deemed unworthy were the handicapped, mentally impaired, sexually promiscuous, and others whose behaviors or physical characteristics were judged to be detrimental to the purity of the ideal racial characteristics propounded by the eugenics movement. Given the prevailing legal and political climate of the early 20th century, a very disproportionate number of the victims were either poor, black, or both. State Sen. Earlene Parmon and former state representative Larry Womble were at the vanguard of the movement that has tried for years to address the need to compensate financially the survivors that were victimized by North Carolina's Eugenics Board.
Former Rep. Womble announced that the bill, which would provide approximately $50,000 to each surviving victim, represented a "wonderful time for the people of North Carolina and the state of North Carolina." Womble went on to say "I congratulate everybody who had a hand in bringing this day to become a reality," and added that, "I feel very elated, very happy, and very relieved on behalf of those victims and survivors."
Beginning in 1929 the 45-year-long forced sterilization program continued unabated until 1974. North Carolina House and Senate leaders agreed Sunday on a new state budget of $20.6 billion, which included the $10 million allocation to compensate victims of the North Carolina Eugenics Board. The payment of financial compensation is the only means available under our legal system that can approximate making the victims "whole," despite the fact that nothing can return to them what was forcibly taken by state action.
The compensation package brings to an end a dark period in North Carolina history, but will have little or no effect upon as many as tens of thousands of victims in other states that codified the racial purity standards of eugenicists, and legally forced citizens deemed undesirable to surgically surrender their ability to reproduce.
The pseudoscientific eugenics movement, promoted and encouraged with a large amount of financial and other support by powerful groups such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute provided the foundations for Hitler’s and Nazi Germany's racial laws--which resulted in the extermination of over 6 million Jews, and millions of other human beings who were Roma (gypsies,) homosexual, persons deemed feebleminded, the handicapped, the mentally retarded, or any other persons designated racially undesirable by the Nazi racial purity laws.
Russell Grayson is a former attorney and faculty member at Rutgers University Graduate School of Management. He previously was a writer for "The Village Voice," and Israel National News, and now serves as a correspondent and editor with The Cutting Edge News.
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