WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Virginia Legislator Confronts Virginia's Dark History Of Eugenics

Play associated audio

One legislator from Arlington is seeking compensation for victims forced sterilization, the echoes of a part of a dark chapter in the history of Virginia.

Nobody knows the exact number of people in Virginia forced to undergo sterilizations, although estimates range from 7,500 to 8,000. Democratic Del. Patrick Hope says thousands of those people may still be alive today, and he's calling on the governor and General Assembly to study the issue.

"Most people equate it with Nazi Germany," says Hope. "But in fact, it originated right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

Hope is asking the governor and the General Assembly to try to track down survivors of Virginia's infamous program of forced sterilization, and wants to put together a task force to track down survivors and determine just compensation. Hope says people who are wrongfully convicted are awarded $40,000 a year in Virginia, and he says the commonwealth should look at ways to address the harm caused by the theory of eugenics in Virginia.

Hope's effort is inspired by a similar initiative in North Carolina, where the state legislature is considering a $10 million package to compensate victims of forced sterilization.

"It was kind of a bad end of a good idea, which was Darwinism," says George Mason University professor Andrew Light. "So the idea was to direct the evolution of mankind."

This year is the 85th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision upholding the 1920s-era Virginia law, which was used as a template for several other states.

NPR

Writer James Alan McPherson, Winner Of Pulitzer, MacArthur And Guggenheim, Dies At 72

McPherson, the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, has died at 72. His work explored the intersection of white and black lives with deftness, subtlety and wry humor.
NPR

Oyster Archaeology: Ancient Trash Holds Clues To Sustainable Harvesting

Modern-day oyster populations in the Chesapeake are dwindling, but a multi-millennia archaeological survey shows that wasn't always the case. Native Americans harvested the shellfish sustainably.

WAMU 88.5

Your Turn: Ronald Reagan's Shooter, Freddie Gray Verdicts And More

Have opinions about the Democratic National Convention, or the verdicts from the Freddie Gray cases? It's your turn to talk.

NPR

Writing Data Onto Single Atoms, Scientists Store The Longest Text Yet

With atomic memory technology, little patterns of atoms can be arranged to represent English characters, fitting the content of more than a billion books onto the surface of a stamp.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.