Target: Thom Tillis, North Carolina House Speaker
Goal: Give monetary compensation to those who suffered forced sterilization
North Carolina has proposed a budget that will allocate funds towards victims of forced sterilization in the state. If the budget passes, the money will go to individuals who were sterilized against their will, starting with the Great Depression in 1929, and continuing until 1974.
Thirty-two states in the United States practiced “eugenics” programs that forcibly sterilized individuals with “lesser” genes. This took place because of a belief that poverty could be “inherited,” and if those living in poverty were sterilized, the gene pool would improve, along with socioeconomic status. Although many states ended their practices of sterilization earlier than North Carolina, in 2002 North Carolina became the first state to publicly apologize for the involuntary sterilizations, and are currently the first state to propose a compensation program for those who were sterilized.
Although the number of involuntary sterilizations is unclear, it is believed that about 7,600 people were sterilized just in North Carolina.
North Carolina’s budget will give $10 million to the surviving victims of the sterilization, and the amount paid to each individual will depend on how many come forward. While offering compensation is a big step forward in admitting wrongdoing and reaching out to those who were both physically and mentally traumatized based on their race, familial structure, and socioeconomic status, many victims acknowledge that the pain and humiliation they experienced can’t be solved with money.
By signing the petition below you will be asking North Carolina to pass the budget and provide compensation to its victims of forced sterilization, and demand that other states take similar action.
Dear Speaker Thom Tillis,
The history of eugenics in the United States, and specifically in North Carolina between 1929 and 1974, is humiliating. Forcing sterilization on individuals based on their socioeconomic status is degrading and a truly dark time in our country’s history.
I am writing you to commend you for addressing this issue both in the state’s apology in 2002 to victims of forced sterilization and in the current movement to give $10 million to victims of the sterilization. While monetary compensation cannot undo the horror of emotional and physical pain that these individuals have faced for decades, it is important for the state to right its wrongs and recognize its failures. I hope that North Carolina’s decision to compensate these individuals will encourage the other 31 states involved in forced sterilization to begin a similar program.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Southern Studies Institute via Wikimedia Commons