Payments Start For N.C. Eugenics Victims, But Many Won’t Qualify

Debra Blackmon was about to turn 14 in January 1972, when two social workers came to her home.

Court and medical documents offer some details about what happened that day. Blackmon was “severely retarded,” they note, and had “psychic problems” that made her difficult to manage during menstruation.

Her parents were counseled during the visit, and it was deemed in Blackmon’s best interest that she be sterilized.

Blackmon is among the more than 7,000 people in North Carolina — many poor, many African-American, many disabled — who were sterilized between 1929 and 1976 in one of the country’s most aggressive eugenics programs.

North Carolina passed a law to compensate victims of the state-run program last year. This week, the state sent out the first checks to qualified applicants. But Blackmon, like many others who are fighting for restitution, is not among them.

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