From 1929 to 1974, North Carolina subjected about 7,600 people deemed “unfit” for reproduction to a forced sterilization program. 2,000 of those victims are still alive. As anyone can reasonably predict, a disproportionate number of the victims were African-American women. In 2002, Kevin Begos wrote an award-winning series for the Winston-Salem Journal titled “Against Their Will,” which prompted an apology from governor Mike Easley for the program and led to the ongoing battle for compensation for the victims. Support for H947, the Eugenics Compensation Act, is bipartisan, and House Speaker Thom Tillis and majority leader Skip Stam support the bill.
That’s not stopping leading anti-immigrant representatives Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth) and George Cleveland (R-Onslow) doing what they can to weaken or scuttle the bill. Cleveland said previously that North Carolina shouldn’t have to compensate the victims because “eugenics was a worldwide movement” and that no other state with a eugenics program has compensated its victims.
Tillis and Stam already had to have a press conference clean up Cleveland’s mess after he brought several victims and their families to tears after the representative voiced his staunch opposition. While Tillis has been trying to craft a different image for the NC GOP, old guard members like Folwell and Cleveland keep derailing his agenda. William Gheen, president of the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) has called for Tillis’ ouster after the speaker appeared unresponsive to