At the age of 14, after becoming pregnant from a violent rape, the eugenics board of the State of North Carolina decided Elaine Riddick should not have any more children and sterilized her without consent. Riddick claims the reason she was sterilized without her knowledge or approval was because the state of North Carolina had ruled her “feebleminded,” a degrading term commonly used in eugenics. She recently told her emotional story in the powerful documentary film, produced by Life Dynamics, Inc., called Maafa21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America, which Live Action is screening on social media this month. North Carolina’s eugenics program was funded in part by a member of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s Board of Directors and close friend of the Federation — Clarence Gamble. Gamble sat on the board of Sanger’s American Birth Control League (ABCL) as well as Planned Parenthood, and was also a financier of Sanger’s birth control crusade. In addition, he helped to fund the North Carolina Eugenics program.
Sanger, an established member of the American Eugenics Society, stacked her organization with like-minded men and women. In 1942, the ABCL changed its name to Planned Parenthood.
Elaine Riddick was kidnapped, molested, and became pregnant as a result of rape at 13 years of age. At the time, Riddick was living with her grandmother, Maggie Woodard, known as “Miss Peaches,” when a social worker with the State discovered her pregnancy. Her name was Sue L. Casebolt, and she referred Elaine’s case to the state’s Eugenics Board. Casebolt had been installed as the Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Eugenics Board in 1961.
According to Maafa21:
At a board meeting held three weeks later, she stated that she intended to keep a file on every child whose name reached her desk so that they could be picked up as soon as they reached childbearing age. Casebolt was still on the board in 1968 when it approved the sterilization of Elaine Riddick.
Riddick said that her grandmother was illiterate and did not understand what she was signing. Knowing this, the social worker pressured her to sign with an “X,” threatening to send Elaine to an orphanage, and remove her grandmother’s government aid for food if she did not. Unfortunately, the document her grandmother was pressured to sign was not a medical consent form for the birth, but a consent to have Elaine sterilized after she gave birth to her son Tony, now a successful businessman.
“I did not find out that they had sterilized me until I was nineteen years old,” Riddick says in Maafa21, adding:
I asked the State of North Carolina why they did this to me and they said that [they did it] because I was feebleminded. That I would not be able to take care of myself…. That I was incompetent…. They were saying that feeblmindness is hereditary. So, they sterilized me so I would not produce my kind. Mind you, I am not illiterate nor am I feebleminded…. They sterilized kids, my understanding…-as young as eight years of age. I don’t know what an eight year-old can do that could cause them to do this to them? The only reason I can give myself is that [it’s] because they’re Black.”
Riddick’s powerful testimony and nearly 40-year battle for justice secured millions of dollars for surviving victims in North Carolina. As a result of Riddick’s willingness to tell her story, North Carolina also agreed to make its eugenics records public.
North Carolina’s sterilization program began with the passage of the North Carolina Sterilization Act in 1929. In 1933, according to the North Carolina History Project online, the act was declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it “did not allow an appeals process. In the same year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law allowing an appeal process and created the Board of Eugenics to oversee sterilizations.”
“Between 1929 and 1974, more than 7,600 North Carolinians were sterilized,” reports the Winston-Salem Journal, which wrote extensively on this tragedy, “many of them against their will. Young girls who had gotten pregnant, some by rape or incest, were frequently the targets. Some were flagged because faulty intelligence tests labeled them “feeble-minded,” others simply because they were epileptic. Many were young, poor and black.”
“It’s a very paternalistic model,” author and researcher Johanna Schoen said. “(Women) certainly weren’t supposed to choose when to use birth control or when not to use birth control, or when to be sterilized or when not to be sterilized. The model was, the physician knows best.”
Schoen writes in his book, “Choice & Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public”:
[M]any philanthropists and health officials believed that African Americans lacked the intellectual capacity to use any form of birth control. Elsie Wulkop, a social worker who collaborated with [Clarence] Gamble to establish small contraceptive field trials, commented on the attempt to educate African Americans on birth control, “It impresses me as being like trying to get sheer animals to conform.”
Schoen continues, “Sources indicate that some health officials might have found birth control programs appealing as a form of population control.”
Riddick is also understandably outspoken against Planned Parenthood, as the abortion corporation’s founder was financially supported by Clarence Gamble, the man who also helped fund the very eugenics program that sterilized Riddick. “Euphemisms and sterilization target code words, for example, “feebleminded”, were used to describe Black women like me,” Riddick wrote in an op-ed:
“I was forcibly sterilized at the age of 14 years under North Carolina’s inhumane forced sterilization policy. A policy that was derived from Margaret Sanger’s Planned Parenthood population control handbook, which spread across the United States by her loyal band of eugenicists and lobbying our elected officials.”
Despite Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s ties to the horrors of eugenics, many laud her as a hero, including modern-day Planned Parenthood itself. But, as Mary Senander explains in the Star Tribune, Sanger was anything but a heroine:
Contemporary liberal social planners have elevated Sanger to sainthood, protesting that her birth control campaign was nothing more than a vehicle for economic betterment and health for the masses. But Sanger’s own well-documented words, publications and associations indicate a deeper and darker motivation. Sanger began publishing the Birth Control Review in 1917 and served as its editor until 1938. The May 1919 Review proclaimed, “More children for the fit, less for the unfit.” By unfit, Sanger meant the mentally retarded or physically handicapped; later her definition expanded.
In November 1921 the review issued a clarion call: “Birth control, to create a race of thoroughbreds.” Sanger suggested that parents should “apply for babies as immigrants have to apply for visas.” By 1925, she was a true convert to eugenics, setting up birth control clinics in poor neighborhoods populated by “Latins” and “Slavs” (both groups heavily Catholic) and “Hebrews” – groups she had targeted as threats because of their increasing numbers. She spoke of those who were “irresponsible and reckless,” among them those “whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers”…
In the October 1926 Review, Sanger announced her idea for eugenic sterilization: “There is only one reply to a request for a higher birthrate among the intelligent, and that is to ask the government to first take off the burdens of the insane and the feeble-minded from your backs.” Eugenicists like Sanger concluded that the poor were both stupid and immoral, fueling campaigns for sterilization during the Depression. (By 1932, 27 states had compulsory sterilization laws.)
Sanger supporter Clarence Gamble was a graduate of Harvard Medical School graduate, the heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, and a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania. He was also a medical consultant for the Human Betterment League of North Carolina, another organization with ties to eugenics.
According to the book, “Intended Consequences,” in 1933, Gamble was elected president of the Pennsylvania Birth Control Federation, an organization affiliated with Sanger. And, according to researcher James A. Miller:
In December 1937, Gamble was appointed ‘Medical Field Director’ of Sanger’s Birth Control Clinical Research Bureau and at the same time became a member of the editorial advisory board of the Bureau’s Journal of Contraception, a propaganda vehicle for Sanger’s birth control and eugenics agenda…When the North Carolina plan was launched, there were just three (private) birth control clinics in the state; by the end of 1938, with Gamble’s backing, the state had created 56. At that time, with less than 3 percent of the country’s population, North Carolina had 13 percent of the nation’s birth control clinics. By mid-1939 the number of birth control clinics in North Carolina had risen to 62, second only to New York.
Dr. Clarence J. Gamble, previously a director of the ABCL, was elected the BCFA regional director in the South. Almost immediately, he drew up a memorandum for his plans for the “Negro Project.” Gamble’s plan included placing black leaders in positions where it would appear that they were in charge (in order to counter the perception by black leaders who might regard birth control as an extermination plot). Sanger agreed: “We do not want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten that idea out if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
One method of preventive medicine, the sterilization of the insane, the feeblemided and the epileptic, is supervised by the Eugenics Board of North Carolina…. Petitions for the sterilization of a mentally diseased, feebleminded, or epileptic person may be initiated by a county superintendent of welfare, or the head of a state institution. If the Board finds that the operation is for the best mental, moral or physical improvement of the patient, or for the public good, it may authorize the procedure…. Of those sterilized under the law, 23 per cent were Negro. That this figure is lower than the proportion of Negroes in the population of the state-approximately one-third-is due partly to the fact that the state hospital caring for the Negro insane and feebleminded has not had sufficient surgical services to perform many of these operations.
Research from the Winston-Salem Journal discovered that “Gamble wanted sterilizations to increase rather than decrease, and increase they did.”
According to the film, Maafa21, “In 1947, Gamble called for the expansion of North Carolina’s State’s sterilization program saying that for every feeble minded person sterilized, 40 more were polluting and degrading the bloodlines of future generation with their defective genes.”
Gamble had been promoting birth control since the late 1930s…” writes the Winston-Salem Journal. In addition:
Gamble was sure that eugenic sterilization was a good idea, but after World War II few states were willing to consider the kind of aggressive program that he wanted. Gamble contributed time, money and a keen public-relations sense to the Human Betterment League. He also paid for most of the sterilizations in Orange County during one year, and he paid for the research that went into the book Sterilization in North Carolina, written by researcher Moya Woodside.
According to Maafa21, “North Carolina was not the only state whose eugenics programs were influenced by friends of Sanger or Planned Parenthood. In some parts of the country, Planned Parenthood was closely associated with these state eugenics boards and was often a referral agency for them.” You can watch Maafa21 on Live Action’s Facebook page.
In her quest to get justice for eugenics victims, Elaine Riddick testified tearfully:
I was a victim of rape…I was a victim of child abuse… I have to get out what the state of North Carolina did to me. I am not feeble minded. I’ve never been feeble minded. They slandered me. They ridiculed and harassed me….
They cut me open like I was a hog… at the same time they gave me a cesarean birth and took my child and when they did that – they sterilized me. What do you think I’m worth?
Riddick told the lawmakers that her only crime was being poor, Black, and from a bad home environment.
Between 1929 and 1974, nearly 7,600 documented males and females were sterilized by choice, force or coercion under the authority the NC Eugenics Board program. The youngest victims were ten years of age.
- 85% of victims were female.
- 40% of victims were minorities, including African Americans and Native Americans.
In 2010, the Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation was established as a Division of the NC Department of Administration to compensate victims who were forcibly sterilized by the State. The exact number of victims alive today is unknown. However, the State Center for Health Statistics estimates that 2,944 victims may have still been alive as of 2010. It is more realistically estimated by the State Center that 1,500 to 2,000 victims may still be alive.
In 2013, the NC state legislature included $10 million in the budget to be divvied among verified victims.
Eugenics is an evil ideology that tragically remains alive today. As Live Action News has previously documented, the philosophy of eugenics continues to morph under different terms such as abortion and euthanasia. Today, abortion disproportionately targets the African American community — and the main promoter of abortion is Planned Parenthood.
Although Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, an eugenics enthusiast, the organization has yet to denounce her. That is because Planned Parenthood’s ties to eugenics run just as deep as their founder’s — and that evil root, which claims to decide who is worthy to live or to die, exists to this day.