The Tuskegee Experiment

Thinking about what Jeremiah Wright said regarding AIDS and I dug up the following passage regarding the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis where 399 men where used as human guinea pigs to see what happens to the body after syphilis kills you. The study ran from 1932 to 1972 even though a standard cure for the disease, penicillin, was found in 1947.

The following is from the Tuskegee University Website:

The Legacy of Tuskegee
In 1990, a survey found that 10 percent of African Americans believed that the U.S. government created AIDS as a plot to exterminate blacks, and another 20 percent could not rule out the possibility that this might be true. As preposterous and paranoid as this may sound, at one time the Tuskegee experiment must have seemed equally farfetched.

Who could imagine the government, all the way up to the Surgeon General of the United States, deliberately allowing a group of its citizens to die from a terrible disease for the sake of an ill-conceived experiment? In light of this and many other shameful episodes in our history, African Americans’ widespread mistrust of the government and white society in general should not be a surprise to anyone.

I have to admit not knowing my history here. This is disgusting, and it was done to black citizens by the government.   This is what I’m referring to when I say that   being black in this country comes with a legacy that clouds everything. This is what Mike Huckabee was referring to also – that you really have to walk a mile in the shoes of the oppressed before you start making moral judgments.

More About the Tuskegee Experiment:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NPR: Remembering the Tuskegee Experiment

Wikipedia: Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male  

  • grace

    This should make all Americans not trust the govt., not just black people.

  • Spencer

    You’re very right. All people should be upset about this – and I believe enlightened people are. All I’m saying is there’s cause for heightened sensitivity from blacks?

    • Bob

      A government worker "leaked" the story of Tuskegee. No doctors were prosecuted. Taxpayers paid the victims. The study worked and could work for all races. Notice in the 20 year summary the importance of family for tracking. Embed a subject in a family and tracking would be from cradle to grave.

  • Jack

    We need to also remember, in this context of alleged gov’t “conspiracy” against blacks, that military personnel were purposely exposed to nuclear bomb blasts back in the 1950s when the atomic age was new. We have films of these events, men standing in ditches with shaded goggles and holding their hands over their ears as a mushroom could rises in the distance. This was done over and over to see what medical effects fallout had on humans. Stupid? Sure. Insane? You bet. But at the time, no one knew any better than to try these sorts of things to learn the answers. No one is accusing the gov’t of conducting experiments to wipe out white military men, which comprised the bulk of those exposed to the experiments.

  • grace

    Jack, It’s so strange that you raise this topic. Are you talking about Bikini Island? My grandfather was one of those soldiers. He was not really warned of the dangers he was being exposed to, but he was told he should not have children. He obviously didn’t listen, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this right now. But he did suffer years of mental anguish and died at the age of 48.

    I just thought it was a big coincidence that you brought it up, because it was my first thought when I read Spencer’s post.

  • Spencer

    Jack – are you trying to imply that these men being black had nothing to do with how they were treated? These were black men in the thirties, in the south. That they were poor and uneducated which also factors into this, but that describes (and still does) a lot of blacks.

    I never said that the government was to be trusted. There are many examples where the government abused their power over citizens that have nothing to do with their race, but this isn’t one of them.

    I simply raised this example as an explanation for why some black people feel the way they do about the government. I’m annoyed that apparently my post somehow is me saying only black people have suffered.

  • Justic

    Over 400 yrs of Slavery, Symtematic/Sanctioned/Institutiona-
    lized Racism is Terroism with far reaching effects. Sympathize
    with individuals, we’re talking about a whole race of people.
    People just don’t get it unless its happening to them as though there’re in some Supreme Cult devoid of though. Spend billions war/control, what about peace and reconcile….