RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Despite the controversy stirred up by the “Negro Project” billboards, Thursday evening’s seminar at Mt. Olivet Church on N. 25th Street in Richmond saw the pews about half full.
But many of those present were passionate about the fallout from the mission born nearly 75 years ago to bring birth control to blacks in the U.S. to slow their reproductive rate.
It’s a tough chapter of history, where social engineers here and in Nazi Germany were joined by the science of eugenics – in essence, selectively breeding humans like we do farm animals and pets to get rid of the traits we don’t want and promote the ones we do.
Margaret Sanger, the godmother of Planned Parenthood, was the fearless voice for birth control and champion of the so-called Negro Project. She is said to have believed darker-skinned humans were inferior, along with those with mental illnesses as well as the impoverished. She believed the solution was negative eugenics – trying to keep those inferior specimens from reproducing.
Back then, abortion was still illegal, explained Nelson Taylor with the Frederick Douglas Foundation. The project initially was built around abstinence and other types of birth control. “The push began to be sterilization, which was a very big thing in most states.”
As abortion became legal, the black population was impacted disproportionately, Taylor said. “We can know conservative estimates since Roe-v.-Wade, 17 million African-American babies have been aborted . . . Abortion is the leading cause of death in the African-American community.”
He believes the impact of the Negro Project continues to today, diluting the political might of blacks and now leaving them behind Latinos as the nation’s largest minority.
The Negro Project is a complex issue that crosses political and racial lines, blending civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson with politically conservative abortion foes.
It’s part of the convoluted legacy of Margaret Sanger, an early champion of gay rights and women’s rights; an abortion opponent who also believed charity weakened society and chastity strengthened it.