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TUSKEGEE, Ala. — Decades later, it’s still hard to grasp what the federal government did to hundreds of black men in rural Alabama — even if you’re among their descendants, lighting candles in their memory.

For 40 years starting in 1932, medical workers in the segregated South withheld treatment for unsuspecting men infected with a sexually transmitted disease simply so doctors could track the ravages of the horrid illness and dissect their bodies afterward.


Finally exposed in 1972, the study ended and the men sued, resulting in a $9 million settlement. Twenty years ago this May, President Bill Clinton apologized for the U.S. government. It seemed to mark the end of this ugly episode, once and for all.

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  • For all of you trying to find out if you have money or benefits coming, contact the office of attorney Fred Gray, who is handling all of these matters. His office is in Tuskegee. Please don’t contact me. I have no idea how the distribution of funds works. But love to you all.

    Second thought. Please do not let this horrible piece of black history keep you from seeing a doctor regularly. If you don’t trust white doctors, I certainly understand. But there are tens of thousands of wonderful black doctors in the United States.

    For those who have wondered, I mentioned earlier that I am the reporter who broke the story, and some have asked about my ethnicity. I am white. It made no difference to me. This was an atrocity committed against my fellow human beings. It had to be called into account.

  • Since I was the AP reporter who broke the story, I sort of wish you’d contacted me before this was published. I could have added some color from interviews over the years with survivors of the study. In any event, I’m delighted you did the story. This a grim chapter in American history that should never be forgotten.

  • My mother is 91 and was diagnosed with syphilis about nine months ago. My father has been deceased for 22 years and she has not been in any type of relationship at all, no nursing home, and has always went to her doctor visits for as long as I can remember and I am 60 years of age. I just don’t understand how this could happen. Any help would be appreciated.

  • My mother was the daughter of one of the controlled participants in this study and was not aware of any lawsuit or settlement like Corine Merritt. Do you know who we should follow up with this matter? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

  • My grandfather Lavader James was said, my mother to have been apart of that experiment. My grandmother died three days after my mothers birth from exposure to the experiment. I was unaware of the lawsuit and my family should have been apart of it. Is there anything that we can do it this point? Feel free to contact me via my email. Thanks

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