And now, the second installment of my series on Virginia’s eugenics movement, produced seven years ago with a grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The first part can be heard here, and relates a general history of the eugenics movement, and the role Virginia played in legitimizing forced sterilizations.
This second seven and a half minute installment begins with the voice of the late Mitch Van Yahres reading a list of the offenses that could get you a vasectomy or your tubes tied, courtesy of the state. We then hear the voices of two former “patients” of the Virginia Colony for the Epileptic and the Feeble-minded, just north of Lynchburg in Madison Heights. Both live in Lynchburg, and I’m not sure what’s happened to them. When I spoke with them, the resolution expressing the state’s “profound regret” had not yet passed.
Since posting the first story last week, I was contacted by Paul Lombardo, the U.Va historian and bioethicist whose scholarship helped revive academic attention into this chapter of American and Virginia history. Paul tells me he’s writing a book on Buck v. Bell, which will come out this summer. He reminded me that then-Governor Mark Warner apologized for the eugenics era on May 2, 2002, the same day that a historic marker commemorating Carrie Buck was unveiled outside Region 10’s headquarters on Preston Avenue. Pictured on the left is Jesse Meadows, and Paul Lombardo is on the right.