I’m running for Lt. Governor because I believe the officeholder can be a powerful agent of progressive change in North Carolina. While this is a race about the future, so many issues that matter have been shaped by our past. I have a new video and statement posted that discuss one of the most shameful episodes in our state’s history, and what I think we need to do to start making it right.
For more than four decades, until the mid-1970s, government agencies oversaw the forcible sterilization of more than 7,600 North Carolinians. Thousands of the victims were 18 and younger. In one case, a 10-year-old boy was castrated. Those involved said the program was needed to cleanse society of the “undesirable,” “promiscuous” and “feeble minded,” but we know what really drove this horrific effort: racism and sexism.
The full story of North Carolina’s sterilization program is available in an incredible series of articles in the Winston-Salem Journal. The final article in the original series ran five years ago, on December 12, 2002.
In 2003, a state committee called for compensation for documented victims. But to this day, not one penny has been paid to any victim. And yet the state is willing to use public money to fund athletic scholarships at private schools, overpay by millions for office supplies, and cut taxes for the rich.
We need to get our priorities straight. As Lt. Governor, I will submit a state budget proposal that includes payment to the documented survivors of the sterilization program. They are not unknowable victims of distant historical events. The sterilization program lasted until the mid-1970s, and thousands of its victims still live every day with the enormity of the wrongs they have suffered.
State officials’ first rule ought to be the same as a doctor’s: do no harm. North Carolina state government harmed thousands of its citizens, primarily women and African-Americans. I believe offering the victims some measure of compensation should be a top government priority.
Hampton Dellinger, Democrat for Lt. Governor