I'm going to be talking on Wednesday about two topics I was once mightily interested in -- the history of sterilization and reparations. First a little background: North Carolina has been for several decades now revisiting its history with sterilization from the late 1920s to the early 1970s. In 1992 the state issued an apology and more recently the movement to provide some sort of compensation to vicitms has been gathering stream. Back in 2010 North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue established the North Carolina Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation, with the goal of providing some sort of justice and to make recommendations regarding compensation. The NCJSVF had a number of public meetings and has been studying both what happened and what should be done now. The published their extensive final report at the end of last month.
The NCJSVF website has a lot of resources, including some case files of people who were sterilized and minutes of the Sterilization Board, which summarize their deliberations. I find this particularly haunting, especially the pre-printed forms used to collect information on people who were being recommended for sterilization. The NCJSVF's report builds on a lot of work that has been done by journalists -- like the Winston Salem Journal's extensive coverage back in 2002, which was based on historian Johanna Schoen's extensive and important work. (Schoen's book, Choice and Coercion, appeared from UNC Press in 2005).
North Carolina has been one of the leaders in revisiting historical injustice. We had a state commission to study the 1898 Wilmington riot and also a truth and reconciliation committee to revisit the 1979 Greensboro massacre. The current proposal is to provide $50,000 to every now-living victim of sterilization. This has a long way to go before it becomes law, of course; but that's what's being discussed now. There is an important discussion that should take place here about what happened and why; I think we need to delve more deeply who was selected for sterilization and why. And then there's a very important discussion about the moral case for payments and why the current generation should pay for the crimes of past.
Here's a recent article on this from CNN and here is a recent NPR story. Michael Waterstone of Loyola Law School has more on this at Huffington Post. Also, here's a link to the State Library's digital collections page with extensive documents on North Carolina Sterilization.