Local News

N.C. dedicates marker to eugenics program

Posted June 22, 2009 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated June 22, 2009 6:00 p.m. EDT

— State officials dedicated a historical marker to remember the forced sterilization program that affected thousands of people in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker was dedicated Monday afternoon at the North Carolina Community Colleges building at 200 West Jones St. in Raleigh.

“Well these people should not be forgotten because they are essentially victims of false science, and that is one of the things this highway marker will represent," said Jeffrey J. Crow, deputy secretary for the state Department of Cultural Resources. "It is a chapter of the state’s history, which perhaps is not one that people would like to remember. But it is something people need to recognize so it doesn’t happen again in the future."

Social reformers advocated for eugenics programs a century ago as a way to cleanse society of the mentally handicapped and mentally ill. North Carolina adopted its program in 1929 and aggressively continued the program after World War II, targeting the program at the poor.

About 7,600 people were sterilized between 1929 and 1975. A state House panel has recommended that the state give $20,000 to victims of the eugenics program. The legislation is currently under review by the Rules Committee.

North Carolina was one of more than two dozen states that ran eugenics programs, but it's the only one to have proposed compensation, first back in 2003.