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Hiding our history

For many years North Carolina legislators have considered compensating victims of the state’s official eugenics program. Under the program citizens deemed unfit to have children were sterilized.

This year there was real momentum to give survivors cash compensation. That momentum died as the budget gap mounted and, once again, helping the people we irreparably harmed was kicked to the bottom of the priority list.

Legislators did decide to make a few gestures toward remembering this shameful part of our history. They mandated that history classes teach about eugenics. And legislators decided that the state should erect a historical marker acknowledging the eugenics program.

The problem is that legislators were all agreed, at least in the committee meetings I attended, that the historical marker should stand on capitol square where visitors often walk around and read the signs. No one wanted the eugenics marker stuck on some side road that doesn’t get any foot traffic.

So I was surprised to see the historical marker as I zipped out of town the other day. It is on a side street that gets virtually no foot traffic — exactly what legislators said they didn’t want.

How did the marker end up on McDowell, several blocks from the capitol? Is this the best way to remember victims of our misdeeds?

One Comment


  1. Rob Schofield

    July 23, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Out of sight, out of mind.

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