On Tuesday, 2/14, at noon in room 5042, the Center for Civil Rights and BLSA will present a talk by Charmaine Fuller Cooper, Executive Director of the NC Victims of Sterilization Foundation.
A state panel has recommended that the state pay reparations to the victims ($50,000), and that issue will be a major fight in the legislature this spring. Here is some more information:
North Carolina enacted its first sterilization law in 1929 and, under the state’s eugenics program, began the forced sterilization of people deemed “undesirable,” such as those convicted of crimes and the mentally handicapped. The practice of forced sterilizations had been sanctioned by the U.S Supreme Court’s decision in Buck v. Bell, wherein Justice Holmes notoriously wrote “three generations of imbeciles are enough.”
While most states decreased the number or ended forced of sterilizations in the second half of the 20th century, North Carolina bucked the trend and increased sterilizations, continuing the practice until 1974. Nearly 7,600 people, mostly women, were sterilized from 1929 to 1974. The North Carolina program disproportionately targeted African Americans, and some victims were as young as 10.
North Carolina issued an apology to victims of the sterilization program in 2002. The N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation was established in 2010 to provide justice and compensate those who were forcibly sterilized by the state.