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.


'Washington Post' Reporter Explores How Pop Culture Influences Views Of Police

NPR's Kelly McEvers talks to Washington Post reporter Alyssa Rosenberg, who has written a series for the paper about how Hollywood and pop culture has influenced the way the public perceives police.

In 'Appetites,' Bourdain Pleases The Toughest Food Critic (His 9-Year-Old)

Anthony Bourdain's new cookbook features comfort food he cooks for his young daughter. "She's who I need to please, and if she's not happy, I'm not happy," he says.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - October 28, 2016

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton joins us as the new series "Good Girls Revolt" based on her early civil rights work debuts.


Qualcomm Spends Big Money To Get In The Car (Chip) Business

The smartphone chipmaker has agreed to buy NXP Semiconductors for $38 billion. The deal allows Qualcomm to rely less on the smartphone industry. NXP makes semiconductors for cars.

Leave a Comment

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