Saturday, June 28, 2014

Call upon State Lawmakers to Extend the June 30, 2014 Deadline for the Victims of the NC Sterilization Program to Apply for Compensation

June 28, 2014

Contact: Sarah Bufkin, NC NAACP - or 404.285.3413

The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement Call upon State Lawmakers to Extend the June 30, 2014 Deadline for  the Victims of  the NC Sterilization Program to Apply for Compensation

Two thirds of the victims have not filed claims for compensation because of  lack of state outreach about the  available compensation.

 RALEIGH, NC - The North Carolina NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement call upon Senate Leader Phil Berger, House Speaker Thom Tillis, Gov. Pat McCrory and Budget Director Art Pope to extend the June 30 deadline for victims of the state's horrific sterilization program to apply for the $50,000 compensation set aside for each victim in 2013.     

As of the middle of June, less than 600 of the estimated 1,800 victims have applied for their compensation. Close observers believe the state has failed to launch a broad outreach campaign to locate eligible North Carolinians, many of whom the state labelled as mentally defective as the reason for sterilizing them.

For almost a decade, the NC NAACP has demanded that the victims of the Winston-Salem based sterilization program that preyed on mainly poor African American women be compensated. In 2013, the General Assembly finally passed a bill that included a $10 million fund to provide restitution for the estimated 5,000 victims of the state's eugenics laws. Anyone who wishes to apply for compensation must submit a formal application byMonday, June 30.

Those familiar with the victims of the program were all concerned about how to reach people and how to help them fill out all the forms necessary to receive their compensation. There is no master list of victims. Many of the state's records are incomplete. Many of the victims lacked Social Security numbers in their early teens, when the majority were sterilized., and the addresses in the records are 40-50 years old. People have moved, married, changed their names. Many are poor and without ready access to legal advice. Some are functionally illiterate.

"These victims were targeted by the zealous eugenics program in the first place because they were marginalized, poor and without a voice, and now there has been little to no effort or resources from the state to locate these people and help them prepare their applications," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the NC NAACP. "This state has a moral responsibility to find these men and women. Its responsibility did not end with setting aside money for victims to apply for. We call on our state lawmakers to extend this deadline by a year until June 30, 2015 and to commit additional energy and resources to an aggressive outreach campaign in the media and at the grassroots level. Let the state be as zealous locating the between two and four thousand victims and their heirs as it was when it tracked them down in their early teens, convinced the eugenics board they were defective people and then removed their reproductive organs. The extension will not significantly delay payments, since according to the present law no one receives payment until July 2015.

"The NC NAACP with our over 200 coalition partners addressed the issue of wrongful sterilization with the adoption of the coalition's 14-point agenda in 2007," Dr. Barber continued. "Since that time, obtaining compensation for the victims of the forcible sterilization program has been a mainstay of our agenda. Ten years have passed since the state offered a formal apology to victims of the involuntary sterilizations in 2001. These victims have suffered for years, in some cases enduring immense physical and psychological trauma. Compensation will not make these victims whole. But it is a sign that the State of North Carolina wishes to repair the injuries it caused some of her citizens."


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