In Autumn of 1932, a bunch flyers began circulating around Macon County, Ala., promising colored people special treatment for “bad blood.” “Free Blood Test; Free Treatment, By County Health Department and Government Doctors,” the black and white signs said. “YOU MAY FEEL WELL AND STILL HAVE BAD BLOOD. COME AND BRING ALL YOUR FAMILY.”
Hundreds of black men most of them poor – signed up. Many thought they were being treated for rheumatism or bad stomachs. They were promised free physicals, free meals, and free burial insurance. What they never told them was they would become part of the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male,” a secret experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the progression of the deadly venereal disease-without treatment.
20 years ago today President Bill Clinton issued an apology to the eight remaining survivors who had survived that experiment:
“The United States government did something that was wrong — deeply, profoundly, morally wrong,” Clinton said. “It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens. To the survivors, to the wives and family members, the children and the grandchildren, I say what you know: No power on Earth can give you back the lives lost, the pain suffered, the years of internal torment and anguish. What was done cannot be undone. But we can end the silence. We can stop turning our heads away. We can look at you in the eye and finally say on behalf of the American people, what the United States government did was shameful, and I am sorry.”
Thinking about this made me wonder isn’t this one of the prime examples of why so many black men don’t trust the government or doctors?
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