Eugenics

North Carolina will begin compensating victims of the state’s decades long eugenics program at the end of the month.  It’s part of the law passed last year to divide $10 million evenly among victims. It doesn’t look like payments will be going to that many people.  Only about a third of  claims for the compensation have been approved.  Mark Dorosin joins  Morning Edition host Marshall Terry from the UNC Center for Civil Rights.  The center represents about 40 people making the claims.  


The state of North Carolina has received 442 applications for compensation from people who say they’re victims of the state’s decades-long eugenics program.

Last year, state lawmakers agreed to set aside 10 million dollars to be divided out among living, verified victims of the program which ended in the 1970s.

North Carolina has received plenty of negative attention nationally for things happening in the legislature. But we're also making news for another reason. North Carolina will spend $10 million to compensate victims of a state-sponsored sterilization program, making it the first state in the country to do so. It's an effort to make reparations for what was one of the most extensive and longest-running eugenics programs. Between 1929 and 1974, the state sterilized 7,600 people because they were considered "feeble minded," promiscuous or otherwise socially or mentally unfit, even some single women on welfare. It's a feat that only happened because of something rather uncommon these days - bi-partisanship. We'll talk with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle about the process and hear from a recipient of that compensation - a sterilization victim, when Charlotte Talks.

More than 30 states once had eugenics laws, but North Carolina's were particularly aggressive. Some 7,600 men, women and children were sterilized by the state's eugenics board. After the 1960s, the victims were mostly black. Often they were mentally ill or disabled. In many cases they were ordered sterilized simply because they were poor and on welfare.

Now North Carolina has gone further than any other state in attempting to make amends.

  The North Carolina Eugenics program that ended in 1974 has been the subject of efforts by state officials to compensate victims for the forced sterilization that occurred here from 1929-1974. Former Governor Mike Easley formally apologized for the actions of state leaders from that time several years ago, but reparations efforts have so far failed. Some of the arguments in the reparations debate were that paying the victims will not right the wrong that had been done to them. Today, we'll discuss the ethics of reparation, and whether today's generation has an obligation to right the wrongs of previous generations.

Julie Rose

An effort to compensate living victims of North Carolina's now-defunct eugenics program is facing early opposition as lawmakers prepare to meet. Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger Wednesday said he doesn't support the plan as it was proposed last year and hasn't brought it up with his Republican colleagues. 

Eugenics Compensation Absent From State Budget

Aug 24, 2012

NC Eugenics Victims, Advocates Wonder What Next?

Aug 9, 2012
Julie Rose

The unsettling truth about North Carolina's eugenics past has drawn international attention. Thousands of people were sterilized against their will until the mid-70s. It was outrageous. And legislation to compensate living eugenics victims seemed poised to pass. But it didn't. Now, victims who risked their reputations to go public with their stories - and the people who championed their cause - wonder what they could have done differently and what they can do next.

NC House OK's Pay For Eugenics Victims

Jun 6, 2012

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