North Carolina committed genocide against Black people from 1958-1968, Duke researchers say


By DeJuan Hoggard

July 23, 2020

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) — In a recent study published in the American Review of Political Economy, authors claim the Eugenics Board of North Carolina committed genocide against Black people from 1958-1968.

The 22-page study focused on the time period from 1958-1968 because current litigation and accessibility preclude research and compilation of data. Aggregate data prior to 1958 was available, however, information was not categorized by the state’s 100 counties.

“I think it just helps us realize that this really wasn’t that long ago,” said Dr. Rhonda V. Sharpe, who co-authored the study. Sharpe currently serves as president of the Women’s Institute of Science, Equity, and Race in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Duke University African American Studies and Economics professor Dr. William Darity Jr., and Dr. Gregory Price from the University of New Orleans’ Department of Economics and Finance co-authored the study with Sharpe.

“When you use the term genocide, it really brings home the fact that this isn’t just over reproductive behavior, it’s really about eliminating a group of people,” Sharpe said. “And in this instance, it’s Black people.”

The study mentions language critical of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, which operated from 1929-1977, before it was abolished.

“Our results suggest that over the 1958-1968 time period, North Carolina’s eugenic sterilization was apparently tailored to asymptotically breeding-out the offspring of a presumably genetically unfit and undesirable surplus black population,” the authors wrote. “This suggests that for Blacks, eugenic sterilizations were authorized and administered with the aim of reducing their numbers in the future population-genocide by any other name.”

At just 13 years old, Wilmington resident Lela Dunston became a victim.

“They gave me that sterilization,” she said years later, which prevented her from having children. “They told me to sign those papers. I didn’t sign no papers!”

She died in 2012.

In 2013, North Carolina passed a law that was supposed to compensate victims. However, not all of the victims were paid.

“It contributes to the conversation of anti-Blackness. It contributes to the conversation of Black lives mattering,” Sharpe said. “And it contributes to a conversation about why we should have reparations.”

In April 2020, Darity published a book that makes the case for reparations. It can be found here.