February is Black History Month when we recognize the many contributions to American society made by African-Americans. All Americans should be proud of those contributions. Last week, on February 4th, we celebrated the 102nd birth anniversary of Rosa Parks, who has been called “the mother of the freedom movement” and “the first lady of civil rights.” From our nation’s founding, African-Americans have been active in the establishment of our country. As merely one example, in 1852, William Cooper Nell wrote Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812, and then three years later, published The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution. I commend these books to your reading as both are readily available.
Also “celebrating” Black History Month is Planned Parenthood (“PP”). As regular readers of Touchstone and Salvo magazines know, the founder of PP, Margaret Sanger was a vile racist and a proponent of eugenics who sought to eliminate the “unfit.” In the so-called Negro Project, she opened a clinic in Harlem with the goal of preventing the birth of those she considered inferior or unfit, and to provide abortions as a “solution” to poverty. The pseudo-science of eugenics then influenced social policy and legislation. In the appalling 1927 Supreme Court decision of Buck v. Bell, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote the nearly unanimous opinion in which Carrie Buck, a poor girl in a public institution in Virginia, was compelled to undergo forced sterilization. In the decision, Justice Holmes famously wrote that “three generations of imbeciles is enough.” Thus, Ms. Buck was sterilized against her will, and the eugenics movement used the Supreme Court’s decision to sterilize many thousands of people in our nation’s public hospitals. The decision legitimized eugenic sterilization laws in the United States, and dozens of states afterwards added new sterilization statutes. W.E.B. Du Bois served on the board of Sanger’s Harlem clinic. In 1899, Du Bois drew on interviews and census data to produce “The Philadelphia Negro: A Society Study.” Du Bois spent one year living in the neighborhood he wrote about, amid what he described as “an atmosphere of dirt, drunkenness, poverty, and crime.” He had disdain for many of his subjects, especially those he called “the dregs,” and described the large number of unmarried mothers, many of whom he characterized as “ignorant and loose.” But in addition to Du Bois, Sanger recruited the help of other famous African-Americans Mary McLeod Bethune and Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., to sell the Negro Project as a “solution” to poverty and high birth rates. Then, in 1965, the Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Johnson, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, wrote a government report entitled “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action.” In his report, Moynihan cited sociologists and government surveys to underscore that the Negro community was doing badly, and its condition was probably “getting worse, not better.” His report’s main focus, however, was “the deterioration of the Negro family,” which he considered “the fundamental source of the weakness of the Negro community.”
PP, in its recent announcement celebrating Black History Month, acknowledged its “complicated” history regarding the black community. As just one example, in Sanger’s December 19, 1939, letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, she wrote:
We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.
Emphasis added. Strikingly as it may seem, Sanger’s work earned praise from the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who received the Margaret Sanger Award for 1966. This award is PP’s highest honor, and is given to recognize leadership in reproductive health rights. So, yes, PP indeed has a complicated history with the black community.
At the time of Moynihan’s report, he despaired that the illegitimacy rates for black children was approaching twenty-five percent. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”), the equivalent rate in 2013 was 71.5 percent. Moreover, since 1973, of the almost 60 million abortions in the United States, more than 16 million abortions have been performed on African-American women. It is estimated that, on average, 1,876 black pregnancies are aborted each day. According to the CDC, African-American women are more than four times more likely to have an abortion than non-Hispanic white women. In 2012, more black babies were aborted in New York City than were born, and the aborted black babies were 42.4% of all abortions performed in that city. Who can even begin to fathom how many Ben Carsons, Colin Powells, Tony Evans, and Maya Angelous were among those sixteen million. But now, you can no longer say that you didn’t know. During this Black History Month, please pray in particular for the clear witness of churches in black communities across our country, and that the scourge of genocide of black babies will end.