This is BIG news for the eugenics victims in North Carolina. The legislature this year at LAST has approved the sum or $10 million to compensate the survivors of their systematic sterilization programs from 1929 through 1974.
Most were poor, black women in the State’s effort to keep “inadequate” parents from having more children. Well-meaning lawmakers introduced bills year after year only to see their efforts die in committee.
The money is going to the remaining 150 victims who are left out of the documented 7,600 victims.
Other states engaged in similar efforts. I remember my mother telling of a woman in Des Moines, Iowa, whose daughter had been sterilized by the state against her wishes.
In North Carolina, some of the women were “persuaded” by the state. Welfare officials took custody of one or more of the women’s other children to help them make up their minds.
Although the money is too little too late for the victims, it has marked a meaningful step toward reconciliation. No OTHER state has offered compensation to the survivors of their eugenics programs.
This is a chapter in history just like that of the Lebensborn program of Himmler’s in Germany before and during WWII who were victims of a different sort of eugenics, but eugenics all the same, and who had led conflicted lives. Antoinette Gauthier’s story is a sad tale of eugenics gone bad.
North Carolina does close, at last, a chapter of history that never should have been written. Will other states follow and do the same?
Why do we repeat the bad chapters of history?