- Posted June 29, 2014 by
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Paul Chehade - The Stain Of Forced Sterilization In American History.
An important deadline looms on Monday in North Carolina to make reparations for some of the
worst crimes in our history.
In just a couple of days, on Monday, June 30th, 2014, a very important deadline will quietly
pass. On that date, any living victim of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina (EBNC) who has
submitted a claim will be eligible to receive monetary compensation for the violations
perpetrated upon them by this institution.
The reader can be forgiven for not knowing much about this story, as the mainstream media has
given it very little coverage. Perhaps it is because the vast majority of victims were poor,
African-American, and female; maybe it is because it digs up painful memories of a dark period
in American history, one of the many episodes we would like to forget.
From 1929 to 1974, the EBNC was tasked with sterilizing those people the Board deemed “unfit to
procreate,” which included those who were mentally challenged and prone to criminal activity.
However, the program very quickly started targeting people in the lower economic strata,
promoting sterilization as a way to help people rise out of poverty: without the added financial
burden of children, the poor might better their station in life.
While this is, in itself, an affront to American values and to human dignity, the EBNC
eventually began forcing and coercing women into accepting sterilization. Survivors tell of
how, as young teens, they were told their mothers had signed consent forms for such procedures;
in many cases, this was a lie.
In all, around 7,500 people were sterilized by the EBNC. But North Carolina was not the only
state that inflicted this iniquity on its citizens. In total, more than 30 states had similar
institutions during the 20th century. It is hard to get an accurate estimate of the quantiy of
victims, but it could number in the hundreds of thousands.
Come Monday, at least the victims in North Carolina will get reparations. That state's
legislature has set aside $10 million as compensation. While this is a good symbolic step, no
amount of money can ever truly repay the victims of these acts of violence by their government.
Even so, we must try to make amends; we must acknowledge this injustice, that we may be
I am reminded of Matthew 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my
brethren, ye have done it unto me.” For nearly 45 years, we took the most vulnerable among us,
those who were young, uneducated, poor, in many cases mentally challenged, and even victims of
sexual assault, and performed an unimaginable evil upon them. On Monday, let us remember what
we have done unto the least among us, and commit to ourselves that we will never walk this dark
God Bless America.
Honor and Truth