Survivor plans tribute to other sterilization victims
Posted July 29, 2013
ARCHDALE, N.C. — Charles Holt's life has been full of hardships.
Institutionalized at Murdoch Developmental Center in Butner as a teen in the 1960s, state officials deemed Holt feeble-minded.
"I was just a kid that should have never been born," he said recently.
At 19, Holt was told he could leave the facility for good if he underwent a surgery. He said doctors never explained to him exactly what that surgery was or that it would leave him sterile for the rest of his life.
"It hurt me there for a while when I found out about it," he said. "Some people have picked on me, saying I ain't man enough to make a family."
Holt was among more than 7,600 people the state sterilized between 1929 and 1974 in the name of improving society. Many had mental disabilities, while others suffered from epilepsy, were juvenile delinquents or were children of alcoholics.
State lawmakers set aside $10 million in the 2013-14 budget to compensate the living victims of the eugenics program. As many as 1,800 victims may still be alive, but so far, the state's efforts to find them have yielded only 168 people.
"If anyone deserves anything, it's them – the people that didn't get the right to have children," said Holt's stepdaughter, Melissa Hyatt.
Hyatt called Holt a wonderful father and said she always wondered why he didn't have children of his own until learning of his forced sterilization a year ago.
"It really bothered me that someone could do that to him," she said.
Because the compensation fund will be divided among only living victims, Holt said that he has a plan for whatever money he receives in June 2015. In addition to buying a headstone for himself, he wants to do something for the victims who didn't live to be compensated.
"(We should) make a headstone for the other people who have deceased and put their names on it," he said. "I'm willing to put some money on that if they can get some other people to chip in some money on it."