Birth control and the black community in the 1960s: genocide or power politics?
Certain segments of the black community mistrusted the underlying intention of both private and government efforts with respect to contraception. Some blacks in particular became skeptical of the increasing push for contraceptive dispersal in poor urban neighborhoods, accusing contraceptive proponents of promoting nothing less than "black genocide." Although the black community had generally supported birth control since the 1930s, some members rejected it as a white plot to decimate the black race. This controversy continued in a relatively low-key manner through the 1940s and 1950s.(1) By the 1960s, however, fears of genocide heightened as publicly-funded clinics appeared in areas dominated by "poor and prolific black families."(2)
Much of this fear of genocide was rooted in the centuries of abuse by whites of blacks. Black sexuality had been defiled since the 1600s. The prevalence of rape, castration, and slave breeding laid a foundation for the distrust of any program dealing with black sexuality. Although most blacks, especially black women, rejected the notion of birth control as genocide, black suspicions were not without basis.
Several events in the late 1960s heightened suspicions of genocide. The Pittsburgh Courier, a nationally circulated black newspaper, reported that "a long series of incidents which are covertly building up a phobia among Negroes about racial genocide attempt" took place in 1967 and 1968. In Sacramento, a white millionaire was convicted in 1967 for plotting to put poison in the second of two batches of below-cost gelatin to be sent only to stores in black neighborhoods. He also plotted to pump cyanide through the air conditioning system or into water at institutions attended by blacks. In New York, Bernard Goldman, director of the bureau of x-ray in the state health department, found that a "significant portion" of x-ray technicians exposed blacks to larger doses of radiation than whites, claiming that technicians believed a larger dose was necessary to penetrate black skin. In 1968, forty black students in the cafeteria at Booker T. Washington Junior High School in Baltimore were taken to the hospital gagging and choking. Although police found no evidence of poisoned gas or food, "the fear that genocide might have been attempted still persisted in some minds."(3)
Genocide also came before the United Nations in two relevant instances; first, in the post-World War II era and second, in the late 1960s. In the wake of the holocaust, the United Nations passed by a vote of fifty-five to zero a genocide provision in 1948 that prohibited any attempt to destroy a "national ethnic, racial or religious group" by killing or causing bodily or mental harm to members of such a group.(4) In 1951, the Civil Rights Congress (CRC)(5) under the leadership of William L. Patterson became the first American organization to charge the United States government under the United Nations provision with genocide. The basis for the accusation was long-standing institutionalized oppression and terror against American blacks.(6) American officials used red-baiting, passport revocation, and other tactics to undermine the CRC and to deny the validity of the charge. Not surprisingly, no United Nations investigation followed.(7) In the late 1960s, two treaties came before the United Nations, one renewing the genocide clause and one outlawing discrimination based on race, color, or national or ethnic origin. The United States Senate ratified neither motion. The Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women's Clubs collected sixty thousand signatures, calling on the government to endorse these measures because "the conceivability of genocide against minority groups, here in our own country, particularly against the Black people can not be wholly discounted."(8)
During the 1960s, such genocidal fears were generally raised by militants and those skeptical of the system. The more estranged from the government blacks felt, the more likely they were to distrust the motivations of state-sponsored contraception. Whitney Young, leader of the Urban League, revoked his group's support of contraception in 1962. Several local NAACP chapters followed suit. Marvin Davies, head of the Florida NAACP, rejected contraception and argued that black women needed to produce large numbers of babies until the black population comprised 30-35 percent of Americans; only then would blacks be able to affect the power structure. At a meeting of the Council of Philadelphia Anti-Poverty Action Committee in 1965, Cecil Moore, president of the local NAACP chapter, condemned a Planned Parenthood program for northern Philadelphia because 70 percent of the population was black. Labeling the plan "replete with everything to help the Negroes commit race suicide," Moore convinced the committee to table the proposal. Around the same time, Donald A. Bogue, a Chicago activist, reported that the birthrate of blacks in Chicago had fallen from 39.4 per thousand births in 1960 to 29.1 per thousand births in 1965. Although Bogue deemed this decline a breakthrough in family planning, some blacks considered it evidence that contraception was a front to eliminate the black population.(9)
Opposition to birth control among some blacks escalated during the second half of the 1960s. Most objections came from poor young males rather than from the middle class, which generally accepted family planning and effectively employed contraceptives to increase their mobility and life chances. The two groups most closely associated with genocide arguments were the Black Panthers and the Black Muslims.
The Black Panther party considered contraception only one part of a larger government scheme of genocide. Drugs, venereal disease, prostitution, coercive sterilization bills, restrictive welfare legislation, inhuman living conditions, "police murders," rat bites, malnutrition, lead poisoning, frequent fires and accidents in run-down houses, and black over-representation in Vietnam combat forces all contributed to the malicious plan to annihilate the black race. The Panthers also vehemently criticized the government for its failure to develop a comprehensive program of diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of sickle cell anemia. The Panthers therefore concluded that contraception was only part of a wider design to decimate the black race.(10)
The Black Muslims also staunchly opposed contraceptives for three basic reasons. First, the Koran condemns contraception. Second, the Muslim ethic proclaimed men the unquestioned leaders and decision makers. Women's primary role was to breed. As Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad stated: "The woman is man's field to produce his nation." Third, contraceptives amounted to a genocidal plot devised by the "white devils." Muhammad warned against the "disgraceful birth control laws now aimed exclusively at poor, helpless black peoples who have no one to rely on." He postulated that the white motive was not to improve the situation of black families but to eliminate future generations. He compared the contraceptive campaign to the attempt of Pharaoh to destroy Israel by murdering first-born male children. Malcolm X also suspected genocidal motives behind population-control advocacy. "It's easy to see the fear in their mind," he declared, "that the masses of dark people . . . will continue to increase and multiply and grow until they eventually overrun [other peoples] like a human sea, a human tide, a human flood." Muhammad Speaks, the widely read Muslim weekly, published numerous stories on the "deadly" and "diabolic" nature of birth control.(11)
In the summer of 1967 the male-dominated Black Power Conference in Newark, New Jersey, passed an anti-birth-control resolution that contained the key phrase, birth control equals "black genocide."(12) The following year, the Third Annual National Conference on Black Power in Philadelphia called on all blacks to "resist the increasing genocidal tendencies of American society." Resistance ranged from a small California group called Efforts to Increase Our Size (EROS) to groups in Pittsburgh and Cleveland that protested Planned Parenthood programs to the ultramilitant group in New York known as the Five Percenters. These organizations asked two main questions: "Is birth control just a 'white man's plot' to 'contain' the black population?" and "Is it just another scheme to cut back on welfare aid or still another method of 'keeping the black man down'?"(13) An editorial in The Thrust questioned why blacks could not get a free aspirin for a headache "yet when you're a Black woman old enough to look sexy you can get a truck loaded down with control pills free. . . . The whole plot makes Hitler look like a Boy Scout."(14)
H. Rap Brown of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) contended that the United States was conducting genocide on four different levels. First, the court system killed more black criminals than whites. Second, the lack of proper food and nourishment in many poor areas led to higher rates of mortality among black than white children. Third, Vietnam was a war of genocide not only against the Vietnamese but also against the blacks serving and dying in disproportionate numbers. Others made this connection between the Vietnam War and genocide. An advertisement in The Plain Truth (a black newspaper in Champaign, Illinois), for example, read: "Uncle Sam wants YOU nigger. . . . Support White Power - Travel to Viet Nam. . . . Die Nigger Die - You can't die fast enough in the ghettos." Fourth, contraceptive programs in black communities were a "way of ending our race. . . . When The Man tells you to use birth control, he tells you he doesn't want your race to grow."(15) By the late 1960s, a survey found that 28 percent of the blacks questioned agreed that "Encouraging blacks to use birth control is comparable to trying to eliminate this group from society." In Cleveland, Ohio, militant blacks burned down a contraceptive clinic after labeling its activities "black genocide."(16)
Planned Parenthood reported, however, that nationwide black men rather than black women most often opposed contraception. Why? Some of the male opposition seemed to stem from black "machismo." One Planned Parenthood official stated: "Negro men often view the siring of a child as proof of manhood." A social worker agreed: "The black man's opposition has a lot to do with his virility hang up. They like to brag about the number of kids they've fathered. They think it's the ultimate proof of their manhood."(17) "Black Power arguments that contraceptive drives among the poor were merely attempts to keep the black man down apparently had some impact as well, mostly on Northern, urban, young men, not women. A study conducted in 1973 found that younger blacks expressed more fear of genocide than older blacks; Northern blacks more than Southern blacks; less educated blacks more than higher educated blacks; and males more than females. The study concluded that despite obvious fears of genocide among young black men, there was "considerable evidence that black women . . . are even more positively inclined toward family planning than white women."(18)
Many black women strongly criticized Black Power ideology regarding women. They especially objected to the conclusion that not only had white society castrated black men but that black women had "contributed to this emasculation." Frances Beal, New York coordinator of the SNCC Black Women's Liberation Committee, argued that black women "are not resentful of the rise to power of black men. . . . Nevertheless, this does not mean that you have to negate one for the other. . . . It is fallacious reasoning that in order for the black man to be strong, the black woman has to be weak." The apparent "need to affirm manhood" among Black Power men led many of them to assign secondary roles to women. As Angela Davis stated at a San Diego rally in 1967: "I was criticized very heavily . . . for doing a 'man's job.' Women should not play leadership roles, they insisted; a woman was to 'inspire' her man and educate his children," and as black commentator Linda LaRue noted, raise "warriors for the revolution."(19)
Most black women rejected this assigned role as revolutionary womb. They disagreed vehemently with the "brothers" over the issue of birth control and genocide. La Rue, for example, asked these men about the innumerable "potential revolutionary warriors" who remained "abandoned in orphanages." Similarly, author Toni Cade countered genocidal accusations by asking black men: "What plans do you have for the care of men and the child?. . . . How do we break the cycle of child-abandonment-ADC-child?" Although she supported the "need to produce," she rejected the "irresponsible, poorly thought-out call to young girls, on-the-margin scufflers, every Sister at large to abandon the pill." Indiscriminate births would not help the black liberation struggle. The pill, on the other hand, would allow couples to control the spacing and number of children born to carry on the right.(20) A statement by the Black Women's Liberation Group (BWLG) claimed that women took the pill "because of poor black men" who refused to "support their families" and would not "stick by their women." The BWLG realized that "a lot of black brothers" were asking women not to practice contraception because it was "a form of Whitey's committing genocide on black people." For women, however, the pill symbolized "the freedom to fight genocide of black women and children. . . . Having too many babies stops us from supporting our children . . . and from fighting black men who still want to use and exploit us." Dara Abubakari, vice president of the Republic of New Africa - a separatist movement to establish a new black nation in the South composed of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina - wrote, "Women should be free to decide if and when they want children. . . . Men shouldn't tell us. Nobody should tell us."(21)
The genocide arguments espoused by the Black Power Movement made little headway among black women and most black men. Black women understood that the motivation for the establishment of free clinics in poor black neighborhoods may have been based in part on racism, but they still perceived the free services to be in their best interests. Some family-planning activists acknowledged that many wealthy whites contributed financially to the cause due to racism. Beatrice Blaire launched a fund-raiser to establish a clinic in Rochester's Baden Street neighborhood, a predominantly black area, and she "knew damn well that many people, in their minds, made the connection, well, we're going to keep the blacks down." Blaire "took the money anyway" because she truly believed the women in that area needed and wanted a clinic. At least she and her supporters were "sensitive enough to make sure we had a black person to work with black people." Lonny Myers had a similar experience working in Chicago. When asked if she was bothered that some of the money she raised came from racists, she said yes but concluded that "any cause has strange bedfellows." She argued that the financial backing and the "votes of the racists" who supported contraceptives "just to decrease the number of blacks in the city" were crucial to bring about change to benefit women.(22) Women wanted the services despite the intentions of some advocates. In a 1970 Chicago study, Donald Bogue found that 80 percent of the black women he questioned approved of birth control and 75 percent were actually using it. A 1971 public opinion poll amassed similar results: the majority of blacks - both men and women - supported government subsidy of contraceptive supplies. In his book Genocide?, Robert Weisbord concluded that "the black masses are no more responsive to the genocide notion than American Catholics are to papal encyclicals on artificial contraception."(23)
Although most black leaders rejected the genocide arguments, suspicions remained. Urelia Brown, a black social worker, told the Reporter that "Negroes don't want children they can't take care of, but we are afraid to trust you when your offered help has so often turned out to be exploitation."(24) Jesse Jackson did not actively oppose birth control, yet he did question the "timing" of the population control hysteria in the 1960s: "That this issue should surface simultaneously with the emergence of blacks and other nonwhites as a meaningful force in the nation and the world appears more than coincidental." Langston Hughes, American poet and novelist, wondered in 1965 through his renowned character Simple why all of sudden the government had millions of dollars for contraceptives for people of color in India, China, Africa, and Harlem.(25)
The incidence of increasing government involvement in contraception at the same time as the civil rights movement gained strength could be interpreted as a planned conspiracy to decrease the numbers of blacks and other racial minorities. But this coincidence can also be attributed to the dramatic increase in welfare expenditures and the War on Poverty. A relatively high percentage of the poor were also black. As Weisbord reasoned, the "ever increasing public assistance expenditures have convinced many a politico that family planning is a necessity to combat the welfare monster."(26)
Some black leaders interpreted the connection between the new family planning movement and the civil rights movement in a positive light. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, became the most eloquent voice in support of family planning for blacks and received the Margaret Sanger Award in Human Rights in 1966 for his efforts. He argued that "intelligent guides of family planning" were a "profoundly important ingredient" in the black quest for "security and a decent life." Stability for a black man would result from "easy access to the means to develop a family related in size to his community environment and to the income potential he can command." Walter R. Chivers, head of the Sociology Department at Morehouse College in Atlanta, embarked on a speaking tour to promote contraception as a means to strengthen, not to destroy, black families. Other prominent blacks also supported family planning, including Carl Rowan, former United States ambassador to Finland and syndicated columnist; James Farmer, national director of CORE; Bayard Rustin, chief organizer of the 1963 March on Washington; Jerome Holland, distinguished black sociologist and educator; Ron Dellums, California Democrat and member of the congressional black caucus; and Representative Barbara Jordan of Texas. In addition, the NAACP, CORE, and the National Medical Association endorsed family planning.(27)
While this discourse raged on the national level, women activists on the local level were taking concrete action to secure birth control services in the face of militant allegations of genocide. A case in point is Pittsburgh. One primary genocide theorist was Dr. Charles Greenlee, a respected black physician from Pittsburgh who opposed the state contraceptive program.(28) Greenlee brought national attention to Pittsburgh through his accusations of genocide against private and government efforts in the area of contraception. In his quest, however, he came face to face with the will of black women in his community who had different notions regarding birth control.
Many women in Pittsburgh had long been active in trying to secure birth control services for their community. In May of 1931, the Birth Control League of Allegheny County opened a clinic in Pittsburgh because of the "many inquiries" from western Pennsylvania women who desired contraceptive advice. Sarah B. Campbell, community activist from the neighborhood of Homewood-Brushton, credited women, "most of them poor," with the establishment of this clinic. In its first year, 443 women used it and by 1938, 1,192 women sought advice there. In 1942, the name switched to the Planned Parenthood Center of Pittsburgh (PPCP), reflecting changes in the organization at the national level.(29) PPCP expanded to include an infertility clinic in 1946, marriage counseling in 1947, and pre-marital counseling in 1948. The following decade, PPCP initiated a pilot project of home visitors to inform women in the city's poverty areas who were not exposed to customary forms of advertising (speakers, news releases, and newspaper and magazine ads) of the services available at PPCP. The first program started in 1956 in the Lower Hill district, an area housing roughly 1,600 poor families.(30)
"Encouraged by the results," PPCP extended the program in August 1958 into Homewood-Brushton, a predominantly poor, black neighborhood. The project encountered problems here because of the "long trip from home" to PPCP in downtown Pittsburgh: many of the women were "unaccustomed to traveling more than a few blocks from their doors."(31) As Roger S. Ahlbrandt, Jr., found in his analysis of Pittsburgh neighborhoods, certain groups - especially lower-income households, those with young children, and blacks - rely more heavily than others on neighborhood versus city services.(32) The women of Homewood-Brushton fit all three of these categories. Efforts therefore began to establish a clinic in Homewood-Brushton as part of a larger plan to "reverse the declining trend that had characterized the community" in the post-World War II era.(33)
Compared to Pittsburgh, for example, Homewood-Brushton faced more acute problems of poverty, unemployment, substandard housing, and low educational attainment (see Table 1). The percent of black residents in Homewood-Brushton rose from 22.3% in 1950 to 66.1% in 1960. While the aggregate of childbearing-age women decreased, the number of children born increased from 76 births per 1,000 women in 1950 to 121 births in 1960. As Campbell concluded, these statistics presented "a stark picture of a declining community in need of vigorous efforts to reverse the trend. Such efforts were, indeed, being applied, both within the community and from the outside." Residents, for example, formed the Homewood-Brushton Citizens Renewal Council (HBCRC) to tackle neighborhood problems.(34)
Table 1 Pittsburgh H-B Median Income of Families $5,605 $4,685 Male Unemployment 9.0% 11.1% Percent of Population on Public Assistance 8.2% 16.1% Percent of Children Receiving Aid to Dependent Children 12.9% 27.1% Defective Housing(*) 31.0% 42.8% Percent of 18 to 24 Year-Olds Attending College 22.6% 6.4% Official Cases of Dependency and Neglect per 1,000 Children under Age 18 3.4 5.1 Juvenile Delinquency Cases per 1,000 Juveniles (1950) 20.4 21.8 (1960) 28.0 49.4 Adult Arrests per 1,000 Population 67.5 105.1 * based on U.S. Bureau of Census Criterion of "Needing Major Repairs." Source: Campbell, "Case Study," 11.
"Dedicated" citizens "planning for a better future" embraced PPCP as part of the revitalization effort. Two PPCP staff members met with "so-called" black leaders, all men,(35) at the Holy Cross Episcopal Church on 28 September 1958. Despite support for family planning among those in attendance, no clinic was established, although the educational home visitor program continued. Campbell argued that the lack of further action at this juncture was a result of PPCP's reliance on men instead of the grassroot support of women: "You see, the traditional attempt was made . . . [with] the meeting with black leaders of that time, and the traditional old line of community organizations that paralleled structures in the white community, but this effort was not productive." No progress ensued until "consumer participation" developed.(36) This opportunity emerged four years later. A meeting on 7 March 1962 between PPCP staff and HBCRC representatives led to the formation of a community committee to spread information on family planning. Campbell saw this meeting as an opportunity to begin grassroots involvement. She "took the initiative" to invite seventy women to a meeting to discuss family planning, and only then did events "really start to roll." Campbell provided the women with information "on their own grounds, among their own peers," and it was so "vital" to them that "immediate progress" occurred. PPCP received a foundation grant in 1963 that allowed them to introduce a mobile unit to service six poverty neighborhoods, including Homewood-Brushton. This "thrust" was successful, in part, because of the availability of the pill.(37) This new oral contraceptive revolutionized the connection between fertility control and sexuality because it was cheap, reliable, and did not disturb the flow of sexual intercourse.(38)
Two events in 1965 impacted contraceptive programs. First, PPCP submitted a proposal that summer to participate in federal programs initiated by President Lydon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. Specifically, PPCP petitioned for newly available funds to subsidize contraceptives through the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO).39 Each of Pittsburgh's eight designated poverty neighborhoods was to have an agency to direct OEO programs. In Homewood-Brushton, the HBCRC was to fulfill this role and was to be, according to Campbell, "the voice of the Homewood-Brushton community speaking to the federal government." The HBCRC and five other neighborhood agencies, representing predominantly black citizens, voted approval for PPCP to run clinics with OEO funds. The two areas that repudiated the program were overwhelmingly white, Catholic neighborhoods. According to PPCP Public Relations Director Louise Gomes, neighborhood constituencies were "well represented on the citizens committees that voted."(40)
Second, pending OEO approval of the PPCP proposal, a controversy emerged on the state level regarding welfare policy and contraceptives. In the early 1960s Pennsylvania, along with every other state with the exception of Massachusetts and Connecticut,(41) permitted birth control clinics to dispense information related to family planning. By 1965, the majority of states made public funds available for the dispersal of contraceptive devices and added family planning as a regular component of their public health programs.(42) Pennsylvania joined the bandwagon on 17 December 1965 when the State Welfare Department instituted a new policy that allocated public funds for birth control among the indigent who desired it, and allowed social workers to initiate the topic of birth control with their clients. This policy proved controversial among some state legislators who feared it would encourage state sponsored immorality and/or lead to accusations of coercion. Pennsylvania made national headlines in the summer of 1966 when politicians deliberately tied family planning funds with the passage of the Appropriations Bill, forcing the legislature to choose a Conference Committee to work out a compromise. At the same time, twelve Catholic bishops ran a full page advertisement in sixty newspapers across the state in opposition to the policy. Rather than employ traditional moral arguments based on official church policy, they adopted genocidal rhetoric to inflame the controversy:
While no word appears in the proposal to indicate that this augmented birth prevention policy is aimed at Negro citizens in Pennsylvania, it is widely, though covertly, stated by birth prevention proponents both in and out of government that a significant "benefit" of these programs would be their supposedly resulting check upon the expanding Negro populations in our major cities. Discussion of such benefits is not infrequently accompanied with such racist phrases as "limiting the number of undesirables" and with defamatory innuendo concerning alleged Negro "traits" and the dangers of Negro "proliferation."(43)
Months of fighting ensued before the legislators reached a compromise. Under the new law, Welfare Department caseworkers could no longer initiate the subject of family planning with those on public assistance, nor would public funds be available for unmarried women.(44)
Public reaction to this bill differed among various groups in Pittsburgh. PPCP strongly criticized the new law, arguing that it demonstrated a lack of compassion for impoverished women.(45) Republicans promised that if they gained a majority in the upcoming elections, they would expand family planning programs. One week after their victory in November of 1966, Catholic Cardinals and Bishops issued a statement that the government was pressuring the poor to practice contraception. Over the next year, a statewide battle raged between anti-choice forces led by the Catholic Church and the Pennsylvanians for Freedom of Choice in Family Planning, a newly formed citizen organization with thousands of members.(46) Some black leaders joined the fray, agreeing with Church leaders that the law did not go far enough to protect welfare recipients from the possibility of coercion on the part of caseworkers.
In fact, some blacks contended that any government involvement in birth control was tantamount to government sponsored "black genocide." This charge followed on the heels of OEO approval on 3 May 1966 of the PPCP proposal for federally subsidized contraceptive services, which finally allowed Homewood-Brushton women to establish a permanent clinic in the Holy Cross Lutheran Church Center.(47) By 1967, PPCP had eighteen clinics in Pittsburgh, eleven of which were located in poverty neighborhoods and subsidized with OEO funds.(48) Dr. Charles Greenlee accused these PPCP-OEO clinics of sponsoring genocide. He first raised this issue in 1966 and kept it alive with articles in Muhammad Speaks, news conferences, and radio and television appearances. Although he did not oppose birth control nor Planned Parenthood per se, he objected to the "pill-pushing in black neighborhoods," arguing that public assistance workers carried contraceptive "propaganda" into the homes of poor blacks and then forced them to use contraceptives or risk losing their welfare benefits. He contended that free clinics constituted "genocide" - a conscious conspiracy by whites to achieve a Hitlerian solution to the "black problem" in the United States. On a radio talk show, he told the interviewer that "I really believe it's an organized plot to cut down the Negro birthrate."(49)
Because the federal government was too large and too distant, Greenlee chose a local site, the new Homewood-Brushton clinic funded with OEO subsidies, as the target for his attack. While others joined his campaign, Campbell labeled him the "heavy artillery" because his "prestige" attracted the media, allowing him to launch a steady barrage of propaganda. His position, according to Campbell,
uniquely qualified him to be the leading spokesman for the opposition. Black genocide was the popular issue, and he was Black. Basically birth control is a medical matter, and he was a respected physician . . . and . . . chairman of the Medical Committee of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the NAACP. . . . He was male, and, with negligible exceptions, the attack was strictly a male attack.(50)
His choice of Homewood-Brushton as the center for his attack was calculated. Although he was a resident of neighboring Lincoln Park, he had joined the HBCRC to gain support for an earlier attempt to force the state to address sewer problems. He had left the HBCRC by the time of the genocide controversy but he still had connections to it; because the HBCRC had the power to accept or reject OEO funds, this association served him well.(51)
In his role as primary spokesperson for the genocide theory, Greenlee contradicted himself on numerous occasions. In one interview, for example, he claimed that Planned Parenthood was an "honorable and good institution." The OEO, not PPCP, was sponsoring genocide because OEO-funded clinics were all "located in poverty areas populated principally by blacks" while no similar clinics operated in white-dominated poverty areas. Yet when later asked on a radio talk show to pinpoint who was perpetrating genocide, he responded, "Well, Planned Parenthood for one. I don't think they're in the thing by themselves but all the evidence points to it that they're doing just that." Despite this wavering stance on PPCP, Greenlee sent many of his indigent patients to PPCP clinics. Moreover, while he publicly denounced birth control as genocide and called on black women to increase and multiply, he prescribed the pill to many of his patients.(52) Perhaps these contradictions stemmed from his attempt to reconcile his knowledge that birth control was a beneficial service for women with his fear that white population-control advocates would take advantage of this need to serve their own ends, to wit, to decimate the black race. Greenlee also realized that his views did not represent the views of all in his community. When asked, "Do you think you have the Negro population as a whole behind you in your views?" he answered: "I don't know where they are and I don't think they know my views. . . . This is not a thing where all the Negroes are going in one direction."(53)
For Greenlee, the best way to improve the plight of poor blacks was for them to multiply into a critical mass that could demand a fair share of the American pie. As he told a reporter from Ebony: "Our birth rate is the only thing we have. If we keep on producing, they're going to have to either kill us or grant us full citizenship." In a local television panel discussion in Pittsburgh in early 1969, he stated that the white power structure was using contraceptive clinics to "decimate the black population in America within a generation." The only answer to this white attempt at genocide, he argued, was to convince black women to have more babies.(54)
One of Greenlee's most avid supporters was William "Bouie" Haden, a controversial civil rights militant whom the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette regarded "as the most violent of Pittsburgh's black leaders."(55) In May of 1967, Haden established the United Movement for Progress (UMP) to help Pittsburgh blacks. Comprised mostly of citizens from Homewood-Brushton, the main concern of this organization was "to bring a more militant position into the civil rights arena . . . and to call for a UNITED FRONT among Pittsburgh Negroes."(56) One issue around which Haden attempted to unite his followers was contraception.
Haden found an ally in Greenlee. Campbell concluded that if Greenlee was the "artillery," then Haden "was the infantry." While he could not boast the qualifications of Greenlee, Haden was still a "potent antagonist." His controversial character made him appealing to the press, which "contributed to his strength and influence in the community." Both Haden and Greenlee, according to Campbell, were "hostile elements" who threatened the continuation of clinics by claiming that OEO funds were part of a government conspiracy to decimate the black race. As Haden stated, "You can't call what the blacks have planned parenthood. It's planning for no parenthood.(57) "Greenlee concurred: "The white power structure won't spend a dime to kill the rats that eat up your babies, but they'll spend thousands to make sure you can't have any babies." These arguments found a receptive audience in Reverend Charles Owen Rice, a white priest at the predominantly black Holy Rosemary parish in Homewood-Brushton. Rice was a long time activist, involved in the labor movement in the 1930s, the anti-war protest in the 1960s, and the anti-birth control movement. His clout emanated from the pulpit, and his pastorship of a parish in Homewood-Brushton "gave legitimacy to his involvement in the community's turmoil."(58) On 17 November 1966, Rice appeared with Greenlee on WQED, Pittsburgh's public broadcast television station, where both men strongly voiced their opposition to OEO funding of contraception.(59)
Rice seldom employed traditional Catholic rhetoric in his public statements concerning birth control. In his Pittsburgh Catholic column, for example, he rarely mentioned the moral aspect of contraceptives. Instead, he based his opposition on the genocide theories of Greenlee, Haden and others. He adopted a more palatable argument, at least to some segments of the population, by playing on the legacy of white attempts to control black sexuality. Gomes contended that Rice embraced genocide theories because he realized that the "Catholic movement to defeat Planned Parenthood . . . [was] lost."(60) In one column, Rice criticized government attempts to mingle contraception with welfare: this "tie-in is not only an unwarranted intrusion of public power into private life but it is also subtly anti-Negro."(61) In another instance, Rice lambasted the editor of the Village Voice for printing an article that strongly supported contraceptive subsidies for the poor. "Do you not realize that the Pill is pushed in black & Puerto Rican areas in a manner entirely different from its promotion in other areas?" he asked. "Here in Pittsburgh," he continued, "Planned Parenthood & the OEO have a humming Pill Mill in Negro poverty areas. They send lay people around with all manner of contraceptives from door to door to Negroes." He maintained that blacks, such as Greenlee and Haden, were "just waking up" to the reality of the situation, but he feared that they might be too late.(62) The PPCP's 1966 "Home Visitor" program, designed to acquaint area citizens with the availability of services and OEO funding for contraceptives, especially incensed Rice, Greenlee and Haden.(63)
The Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP, with Greenlee as Chair of the Medical Committee, condemned the PPCP home visitors as worse than army recruiters because they "invade[d] the privacy of the individual" without an invitation and inaugurated a "session of brain-washing." This branch of the NAACP alleged that PPCP had promised OEO officials to "recruit" clients for federally funded clinics. "The evidence indicates that they not only kept their promise to the OEO, but improved their methods by adding a 'go out and get them back' arm to their operation." PPCP solicited "women from every house in every predominantly black neighborhood where the O.E.O. out-reach clinics" were located and operated a "military police for the purpose of keeping the females in their anti-parenthood clinics." The NAACP concluded that this "birth control operation is black genocide." The local's stand conflicted with the national organization's support of birth control but can be understood in light of the fact that Greenlee chaired both the Board and the Health Committee of the Pittsburgh NAACP.(64)
These public denunciations of PPCP-OEO programs led to various investigations. The Health Advisory Council of Community Action Pittsburgh (CAP), a local agency that worked with other private and public agencies to combat poverty in eight low-income Pittsburgh neighborhoods, unanimously gave PPCP a clean record.(65) Their report found an "overwhelming preference" for the continuation of clinics in the neighborhoods due to "convenience" (i.e., ability to walk and to take children with them).(66) In addition, Planned Parenthood flew Dr. Douglas Stewart, national director of community relations for PPFA, to Pittsburgh to probe into the matter. Stewart, a black man, accused Greenlee of doing "nationwide harm" with these false accusations of attempted genocide.(67)
PPCP also examined the program and denied all charges. PPCP leaders were "shocked" because the accusations "were so completely remote from our philosophy" that they believed that "somewhere along the line, a deep misunderstanding of our program and services had crept in." Mrs. L. Stanton Williams, Executive Vice-President of PPCP, pointed out that 80 percent of PPCP clients were white. Of a total patient load of 14,000, only 3,000 were served in OEO-funded clinics; 80 percent of this clientele were black. This disproportionate representation of blacks in the OEO-funded clinics, however, most likely had more to do with poverty than overt genocidal programs on the part of the government. Gomes argued that PPCP could provide no satisfactory answers to the charges because Greenlee's ultimate goal was to gain a platform from which to launch an attack at the government: "Dr. Greenlee pin-pointed who he was fighting - the City government, the OEO, the federal government - and we were the convenient target." Gomes tried various tactics to deflect the accusations but in at least one instance, she employed somewhat racist and sexist arguments. "Birth control," she contended, was a "handy weapon to employ in the struggle of the black man against the traditional matriarchy of his race. Ways must be found to make the beneficial aspects of the program an acceptable part of the black man's role as head of the family."(68) Here, she seemed to accept the conclusions of the infamous Moynihan report and to embrace the conservative framework of the traditional patriarchal family that PPFA had espoused since the early 1940s.
PPCP staff members also answered charges aimed at the Home Visitor program. The rhetoric of Greenlee, Haden, and others gave the impression that the OEO had initiated this program as part of a genocide conspiracy. What these men did not point out, however, was that this program had been in operation since the 1950s. The only difference in 1966 was that PPCP could expand the program with the introduction of OEO funds. Louise Gomes claimed that Greenlee's opposition to home visitors stemmed from their success in educating women "to the benefits of child spacing. It is for this very reason - that is, that the program is successful - that Dr. Greenlee sees it as an effective method of cutting down black births."(69)
During this controversy, the clinics continued to operate. The Board of Directors of the HBCRC approved the renewal of OEO funding for PPCP programs in May 1967.(70) By this point, between 80 and 90 percent of the funding for the eighteen clinics located in poverty neighborhoods came from the OEO.(71) The following year, however, the issue of continued OEO funding for these programs erupted, especially after Dr. Thomas Georges, a black man who was head of the State Health and Welfare Department, announced a new policy in January of 1968 that once again allowed caseworkers to initiate a discussion of contraception with clients and provided funds for unwed mothers.(72) Most of the resulting fray can be attributed primarily to the actions of "Bouie" Haden.
By 1968, Haden was determined to do all in his power to eliminate OEO funds in the Homewood-Brushton neighborhood, including "blowing up" clinics. To aid his cause, Rice convinced the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh in July 1968 to give Haden's UMP a $12,000 grant - $10,000 earmarked for his salary.(73) Public response to the church funding of Haden was fast and furious. The Pittsburgh Courier labeled Haden a "Salaried Militant." A caller to a July radio program could not "believe that the Catholic Church which stands for love and peace could pay a man who espouses nothing but violence and hate." Hate mail and abusive phone calls poured into the rectory at Holy Rosemary. The words of one parishioner reflected the sentiment of many: the Church supported a "criminal militant" for no other reason than that he adamantly opposed "the giving out of birth control pills." Church contributions fell off noticeably, and Bishop John J. Wright was hung in effigy at St. Paul's Cathedral in Oakland with a sign reading "Bishop Wright, puppet of Bouie Haden."(74)
Many Homewood-Brushton residents were no happier. Haden was originally from Garfield and used his new Church money to relocate to Homewood-Brushton. David Epperson, executive director of CAP, labeled Haden an "outsider." The "standard-bearers" of the community looked upon him as a "rabble rouser." Campbell claimed that Haden came to her neighborhood "seeking power." She believed the Church relocated him so he could challenge the "status quo," which, in this instance, was the HBCRC, one of the longest running neighborhood organizations in Pittsburgh. Members of this community, according to Epperson, had a "strong, solid, very responsible neighborhood based organization. . . . They worked hard and they did good things." Then "out of the woodwork" came Haden, who endeavored to challenge the "older folks who had been in power." Rice, Greenlee (who was also not from Homewood-Brushton), and Haden, according to Campbell, "felt that they could wrest power from us by using this genocide issue." In their quest for control, they sought "any issue to try to divide the group and that was why the genocide issue came up."(75)
Haden's primary target during the summer of 1968 was the new Homewood- Brushton Medical Center, financed with the help of $1.5 million dollars from the OEO. PPCP, with both OEO and private funds, intended to establish a permanent clinic in the new medical center. Haden vehemently forbade the center to consider such a facility. He intended to use his influential position among young black men susceptible to inflammatory rhetoric to achieve his goal and to keep his name in headline news. "If the center opens," he warned, "I'm going to take to the streets and talk to those youngsters who are not so much in love with life that they're not so much afraid of dying. . . . I know they will bomb that center. . . . It will be my intention to inflame them."(76) He threatened PPCP representatives with bodily violence if they did not cease their activities in Homewood-Brushton and warned there would be riots and fire-bombings "if anyone tries to operate a birth control project in the area."(77) Haden's violent threats were widely criticized. One citizen berated him for calling birth control genocide but, in the next breath, saying he would bomb a black neighborhood clinic, which would certainly result in deaths and injuries. Another wrote that "this seems to me to be the most bold-faced affront to our black neighbors' intelligence" because Haden was essentially saying that "'you people don't have sense enough to think or choose for yourself so I will choose for you.'"(78) With the presence of such violent threats, PPCP leaders met with the HBCRC on 23 July 1968 to discern whether the neighborhood desired the continuation of the OEO clinic. At this meeting, Haden, now a member of the HBCRC, used "obscene language, threatened to go outside and get his boys and throw acid, firebomb us, and cause the biggest riot Pittsburgh had ever seen." Haden repeated this threat on the radio. With numerous cities exploding in violence in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Pittsburgh and Homewood-Brushton leaders viewed Haden as a potent source of violent conflict. On the recommendation of the HBCRC, PPCP temporarily closed the Homewood-Brushton clinic and suspended the Home Visitors program because of "threats" to the "safety" of participants.(79)
Many Homewood-Brushton women, however, "immediately" protested the elimination of neighborhood birth-control services and "demanded" their return.(80) Admonishing Haden to "mind your own business," seventy predominantly black women, led by Georgiana Henderson, requested PPCP to continue its operation in Homewood-Brushton. Henderson stated, "We're getting tired of statements by Mr. Haden. . . . He is only one person - and a man at that - and he can't speak for the women of Homewood. . . . Birth control is none of his business." Another woman asked, "Why should I let one loudmouth tell me about having children?" With regard to Haden, Greenlee, and Rice's indictment of the Home Visitor program as black genocide, Betty Morris, the nurse in charge of contraceptive services in Homewood, answered that PPCP personnel also visited poor white areas but with little success because the majority of poor whites were Catholics who refused services based on their religious beliefs. As for wealthy white areas, Morris explained that visitors avoided these areas because wealthy women could afford a private physician and therefore did not need subsidized services.(81)
The arguments of these women gained support from the Session, the governing body of the black congregation, Bethesda United Presbyterian Church. In no way, according to the Session, could the services offered by PPCP be considered genocide:
To label such a program of family planning "genocide" is patently false. To say that coercion is used in so intimate an area is open to question. No strictures are too harsh in calling to task those persons who would thus mislead and inflame the public on this important issue.
The Session affirmed the right of couples to have access to birth control and to seek the help available through PPCP.(82) The editorial staffs of the three major Pittsburgh papers - The Pittsburgh Press, The Post-Gazette, and The Courier - also threw their weight behind the women's demands.
The HBCRC Board of Directors held a special session on 14 August 1968 to discuss neighborhood contraceptive services. Greenlee and Haden continued to claim that government-sponsored contraception perpetuated "black genocide" and called for the elimination of PPCP-OEO programs in Homewood-Brushton. Henderson, leading the delegation of seventy women, rejected these views because they did not represent the majority opinion in Homewood. She maintained that these men had no right to dictate the needs of women in the area; women could speak for themselves, and they demanded the continuation of publicly funded services. As one black mother of eleven stated, "Let Mr. Haden mind his own business. This is something that should be kept between a husband and his wife." Another mother of five argued that "some things must be left up to the woman. Like how many children you think you can feed, clothe and send to school." One went so far as too say that the "women aren't afraid of Haden. They've decided to make a stand. There are some courageous citizens in Homewood-Brushton who are going to call him: it's like a poker hand." The women prevailed: the mostly male council unanimously supported their demands to continue the program and invited PPCP to resume services in the community.(83) PPCP complied and, with the use of OEO funds, began renovating a building to house an enlarged clinic.
Haden, however, refused to accept this decision. While the "status quo" leaders of the Homewood-Brushton community considered Haden an outsider, those outside the established circle of power saw Haden as a "folk hero." Many of his followers were low income young black males, heavily influenced by Black Power ideology, who provided the leadership in UMP as well as two other Haden-led groups, FOWARD and FAT, and some young females whom the "standard organization" viewed as "really on the outside because of dress and behavior." Haden's base of support was in the eastern section of the community where most people were on welfare. He attracted younger people who "were desirous of leadership roles but had no notable credentials for them." Basically, the disenfranchised gravitated toward him.(84)
Throughout the fall of 1968 and into early 1969, Haden maintained a steady barrage of genocidal propaganda and violent threats. In October 1968, for example, Haden sent a gang of men to strong-arm construction workers on the renovation site for the new PPCP-OEO clinic in Homewood-Brushton, demanding they halt restorations or the gang would "blow up the place."(85) Such intimidation did not thwart the efforts of community women. On 1 November 1968, PPCP opened the clinic in refurbished quarters. This accomplishment, according to Campbell, was a "setback for the antagonists."(86) Haden responded by labeling black supporters of the program "Uncle Toms," and accusing black CAP board members of "selling out" to keep their positions within the federal bureaucracy. Greenlee espoused similar arguments during a television appearance in early 1969, while Rice kept the debate alive in his weekly column.(87)
This persistent pressure led the CAP board of directors to consider the issue at their next meeting on 4 February 1969.(88) Byrd Brown, president of the local NAACP, chair of the CAP subcommittee on planned parenthood, and supporter of Greenlee, "flip flopped" on the issue, according to Campbell, and "reluctantly" introduced the proposal to maintain the funding arrangement. Brown, however, had added four amendments that limited participation in federally funded programs to married women of any age but to single women twenty-one or older, regardless of parental permission. The board accepted the amendments and proceeded with the vote. Some community representatives, however, were uncertain how to vote because their constituents had agreed to support the original version of the proposal; no mention had been made to the communities regarding an amended version. This confusion led to a final tally of seven to five rejecting the continuation of federal funds for clinics in six poverty neighborhoods. This decision was also suspect because all six neighborhood councils had voted prior to the CAP meeting to continue funding. Each council sent one representative to the meeting; Haden was Homewood-Brushton's representative. Thus, Camp- bell concluded, "at least one of the representatives was confusing his personal goals with those of his sponsoring council."(89)
Protest against the vote emerged "immediately." Campbell contended that Haden's "victory in the CAP battlefield awakened, once again, the outrage of the women of Homewood-Brushton." PPCP officers protested the introduction of an amended version of the proposal without prior warning. They emphasized that the neighborhood councils in all six areas affected by the CAP decision had already voted to approve the refunding of the PPCP-OEO programs. The Health Advisory Council to CAP reaffirmed its support of OEO funding "based on a thorough study of the clinic operations" and expressed concern that the CAP vote was "not truly representative of the feelings and desires of the six communities involved." Homewood-Brushton women "reached out" to David Epperson and he agreed to re-introduce the issue at the next CAP meeting, scheduled for 4 March 1969.(90) Members of the Welfare Rights Organizations of Allegheny County (WROAC) - including both black and white women - planned to take petitions and as many residents of the neighborhoods affected by the cut to the upcoming CAP meeting. Harriet Fields, temporary chair of WROAC, told the press:
We cannot help but notice that most of the anti-birth control pressure is coming from men, men who do not have to bear children. We're speaking for the women and we want the Planned Parenthood Centers to stay in our neighborhoods.
Fields suggested that the CAP board would change its vote once it realized how much local support existed for the clinics.(91)
When the CAP meeting opened, opposition leaders led the dialogue with familiar genocide rhetoric but they quickly lost steam.(92) Advocates for continued funding carried the floor. Approximately two hundred mostly black women, organized by Sarah Campbell, demanded the continuation of PPCP services in the six poverty areas. Prior to the hearing, Campbell and her supporters had "collared Bouie Haden" and informed him that they "were not going to accept this business of genocide" and refused to acknowledge such militant tactics as blowing up Planned Parenthood. Their warnings had little impact on Haden. At the CAP meeting, he unsuccessfully attempted to discredit them by claiming that they spoke only for the middle class. They responded by insisting on the right to make their own decisions regarding birth control without the intervention of domineering men. Others pointed out that PPCP operated services besides contraception, such as infertility, marriage, and child-spacing clinics, that benefited large numbers of women. These women, according to Epperson, believed family planning constituted a positive addition to health-care services in addition to securing their right to control their family size. The women "defended the clinic more eloquently . . . than . . . Haden defended his Black genocide theme . . . because they spoke calmly and meaningfully of their own experience with the clinics."(93)
In the end, the women persuaded the CAP board to reverse its earlier decision and to reinstate federal funds for PPCP services in the six poverty neighborhoods. One week after this meeting, HBCRC ousted Haden as its representative to the CAP board of directors. Larry Huff, HBCRC executive committee member, stated: "He has not conveyed our wishes to the CAP Board. . . . He has expressed his own views, and his views are not the wishes of the community."(94) Yet Epperson argued that Haden did raise "certain points of view that were valid." The only way to guarantee against coercive or genocidal plans was to have black citizens, particularly women, direct family-planning programs in black communities. PPCP resumed operation in the communities with safeguards in place against the possibility of coercion and with the support of women in the locales. The records for 1970 showed continued OEO funding of PPCP programs with no mention of any attempts to curtail these services.(95) Campbell concluded that PPCP "won a victory that it would have lost without the actions of the women it served."(96) Black women and the black community in general convinced those in power that women deserved the opportunity to decide for themselves, without any outside pressure, when to use contraception. These women were their own agents; they seized control over their sexuality and refused to allow power-seeking men, "men who do not have to bear the children," to dominate policy decisions that did not directly concern them.
By the early 1970s, black militants in Pittsburgh and on the national level rarely connected contraception with genocide. This major shift was most likely a result of two significant factors. First, these men realized their arguments had failed to convince women that birth control was tantamount to genocide. Second, they diverted their attention to the more salient issue of sterilization abuse among women of color. Newspapers revealed in the summer of 1973 that federal funds had been used to finance involuntary sterilization of black children and women on welfare, including twelve-year-old Minnie Relf and eighteen-year-old Nial Ruth Cox. Charges of genocide in this instance did influence attitudes toward sterilization: the black community united in opposition to such blatant civil rights abuse. While 87 percent of blacks polled approved of publicly financed contraceptive clinics, 47 percent rejected sterilization as a means of birth control.(97) Thus the black community distinguished between methods of fertility control that women could deploy themselves and those that medical and government officials could manipulate to fulfill their own agenda.
Department of History Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7806
I would like to thank Sarah Bradford Campbell for taking time to meet with me and for allowing me access to her notes; David Epperson for his interview; and Frank Bolden for arranging introductions to both Campbell and Epperson. The Griffin Fund at Wake Forest University subsidized research trips to Pittsburgh. I am grateful to Anthony S. Parent, Jr., for his insightful comments and to Julie B. Edelson and Claire Schen for their editorial comments.
1. During the 1940s, this debate received publicity in the Negro Digest. Dr. Julian Lewis, a pathologist and former professor at the University of Chicago, argued that the survival of the black race was dependent on a high birthrate and that birth control was nothing but a plot to make blacks more susceptible to white power. E. Franklin Frazer, the distinguished black sociologist, disagreed. He asserted that more and more babies born indiscriminately, without thought of the parent's health or ability to rear them, [was] not the answer." He contended that the survival of the race depended upon the number of strong healthy babies born. See, Julian Lewis, "Can the Negro Afford Birth Control," Negro Digest 3 (May 1945): 19-22; and E. Franklin Frazer, "Birth Control for More Negro Babies," Negro Digest 3 (July 1945): 41-44.
2. Task Force on Ethics and Population, "Ethics, Population and the American Tradition," in Aspects of Population Growth Policy, eds. Robert Parke, Jr. and Charles F. Westoff (Washington, D.C., 1972), 24-25; and Joseph H. Fichter, "ZPG: A Bourgeois Conspiracy?" America 127 (19 August 1972): 88. See also Linda Gordon, "The Long Struggle for Reproductive Rights," Radical America (Spring 1981): 75-88.
3. "Concern of Race Genocide," Pittsburgh Courier, 8 June 1968, 4.
4. Facts on File, November 28-December 4, 1948, 387D; and Facts on File, December 5-December 11, 1948, 393D.
5. The Civil Rights Congress was formed in 1946 to defend victims of racist persecution. In 1949, Patterson became the National Executive Secretary of the Congress.
6. The formal title of the charge was We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People.
7. William L. Patterson, The Man Who Cried Genocide: An Autobiography (New York, 1971), 156, 177-198.
8. "Jewish Women Warn Against Genocide," Pittsburgh Courier, 29 March 1969, 2.
9. Wade Greene, "Federal Birth Control: Progress Without Policy," The Reporter 33 (18 November 1965): 37; and Thurston N. Davis, "Of Many Things," America 113 (6 November 1965): 511.
10. Imamu Amiri Baraka, ed., African Congress - A Documentary of the First Modern Pan-African Congress (New York, 1972), 419; and Robert G. Weisbord, Genocide?: Birth Control and the Black American (Westport, CT, 1975), 94.
11. Muhammad Speaks, 24 January 1969, 4 July 1969, 11 July 1969, and 29 August 1969; Malcolm X, "The Black Revolution," in Makolm X Speaks, ed. George Breitman (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1965), 45-46; and Barbara A. Sizemore, "Sexism and the Black Male," Black Scholar (March/April 1973): 6.
12. Mary Smith, "Birth Control and the Negro Woman," Ebony 23 (March 1968): 28.
13. Smith, "Birth Control," 29; and "Black Power Conference Has Controversial Theme," Pittsburgh Courier, 27 July 1968, 3.
14. "Analysis of the Pill," The Thrust 1, no. 2 (19 July 1968): 1.
15. The Plain Truth no. 4 (November 1967): 1. Not all readers of the small underground New York newspaper Westside News agreed that birth control equalled genocide. A letter to the editor disagreed with Brown's statement "that by promoting birth control, 'Honkey' is determined to exterminate the black race. First of all, birth control and family planning is self-protection. One should not have more children than one can afford to bring up decently. This does not just apply to black people, but to everybody." H. Rap Brown, "The Value in Being Violent," Westside News, 7 September 1967, 9; and "Letter to the Editor," Westside News, 28 September 1967, 4.
Congress was aware of these genocide fears among some blacks. The OEO told a Senate subcommittee that one way to quiet these fears was to involve the total community in the planning of the programs rather than to establish a clinic without any feedback from the local citizens. See Senate Committee on Government Operations, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Foreign Aid Expenditures on S. 1676, 90th Congress, 1st sess., 1967, 26 and 98-99.
16. "Birth Control: Losing Support of Negroes?" U.S. News and World Report 63 (7 August 1967): 11; Task Force, "Ethics," 24-25; Ralph Z. Hallow, "The Blacks Cry Genocide," The Nation 208 (28 April 1969): 535; and New York Times, 15 November 1968. One can question the sincerity of these black protesters. Did they really believe family planning clinics intended to eliminate the black population or did they see the threat of "genocide" as a political tool to gain more visibility for their cause for black equality?
17. "Birth Control," U.S. News and World Report, 11; and Smith, "Birth Control," 29.
18. Castellano Turner and William A. Darity, "Fears of Genocide Among Black Americans as Related to Age, Sex, and Region," American Journal of Public Health 63 (December 1973): 1029-34. See also, Castellano B. Turner and William J. Wilson, "Dimensions of Racial Ideology: A Study of Urban Black Attitudes," Journal of Social Issues 32 (1976): 139-152.
19. Frances M. Beal, "Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female," in Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement, ed. Robin Morgan (New York, 1970), 343-44; Angela Davis, Angela Davis: An Autobiography (New York, 1974), 161; and Linda J. M. LaRue, "Black Liberation and Women's Lib," Transaction (November/December 1970): 61. See also Paula Giddings, Where and When ! Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America (New York, 1984), 314-19.
20. LaRue, "Black Liberation," 62; and Toni Cade, "The Pill: Genocide or Liberation?" in The Black Woman: An Anthology, ed. Toni Cade (New York, 1970), 163-64.
21. Black Women's Liberation Group, "Statement on Birth Control," Mt. Vernon, New York in Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement, ed. Robin Morgan, (New York, 1970), 360-61; and Dara Abubakari, "The Black Woman is Liberated in her Own Mind," in Black Women in White America: A Documentary History, ed. Gerda Lerner (New York, 1972), 587.
22. Beatrice Blaire, interview with Ellen Chesler, April 1976, 21,; and Lonny Myers, M.D., interview with Ellen Chesler, September 1976, 30-32; both in Schlesinger-Rockefeller Oral History Project, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA.
23. Bogue, "Family Planning in the Negro Ghettos of Chicago," Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly no. 2 (April 1970), pt. 2: 283-99; Gerald Lipson and Dianne Wolman, Polling Americans on Birth Control and Population," Family Planning Perspectives 4 (January 1972): 39-42; and Weisbord, Genocide, 182.
24. Hannah Lees, "The Negro Response to Birth Control," The Reporter 34 (19 May 1966): 46.
25. Langton Hughes, "Population Explosion," New York Post, 10 December 1965; and Joseph H. Fichter, "ZPG: A Bourgeois Conspiracy?", 89.
26. Weisbord, Genocide, 179.
27. "Planned Parenthood Honors Founder's Son," Pittsburgh Courier, 21 October 1967, 10; King quoted in Smith, "Birth Control," 37; "Chivers Warns Parents," Pittsburgh Courier, 29 June 1968, 16; Senate Committee on Government Operations, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Foreign Aid Expenditures of the Committee on Government Operations on S. 1676, 89th Cong., 2d sess., 1966, 1549; and Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower, and Poverty of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare on S. 1545, 90th Cong., 1st sess, 1967, 2255.
28. I contacted Greenlee in 1992 to discuss this genocide controversy but he refused to meet or speak about this issue.
29. In 1942, the American Birth Control League changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, reflecting a new emphasis on family planning.
30. Sarah Bradford Campbell, "A Case Study of the Homewood-Brushton Planned Parenthood Clinic" (Masters of Public Administration thesis, University of Pittsburgh, 1972), 15-18; Sarah Bradford Campbell, interview with the author conducted at Campbell's home, 15 October 1992.
31. Campbell, "Case Study," 15-18; Campbell, interview with the author, 15 October 1992.
32. Roger S. Ahlbrandt, Jr., Neighborhoods, People and Community (New York, 1984), vi-vii.
33. Campbell, "Case Study," 4, 12-13.
34. Campbell, author interview, 16 October 1992; Sarah Bradford Campbell, notes given to the author by Campbell, (hereafter referred to as Campbell notes); and Campbell, "Case Study," 4, 12-13, 22.
35. These male leaders included two physicians, a church pastor, a leader of a local community organization, a political chairman, and an education staff board member. Campbell notes.
36. Campbell, author interview, 16 October 1992; Campbell notes; and Campbell, "Case Study," 4, 12-13, 22.
37. Campbell, author interview, 16 October 1992; Campbell notes; and Campbell, "Case Study," 19.
38. John D'Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America (New York, 1988), 250-51.
39. The OEO provided the first federal funds directed solely at contraception in December of 1964 with a $9,000 grant to Corpus Chisti, Texas. The OEO approved similar programs in Austin, St. Louis, Buffalo, Nashville, and Oakland. In early 1965, the OEO targeted additional funds for family planning as part of the war on poverty. Congressional Record-Senate, 21 July 1965, 3: 17729; Senate Committee on Government Operations, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Foreign Aid Expenditures of the Senate Committee on Government Operations on S. 1676, 89th Cong., 1st sess., 1965, 1382; and Hearings on S. 1676, 1967, 34.
40. Campbell, "Case Study," 13, 20; and Louise K. Gomes, Public Relations Director, PPCP, Inc., 1969, p. 1, given to author by Sarah B. Campbell (hereafter referred to as Gomes Memo).
41. The large percentage of Catholic voters in these two states consistently rejected any attempts to reform state laws concerning birth control.
42. In 1960, North Carolina became the first state to use public funds to pay for birth control information and devices for the indigent. By 1965, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia provided publicly funded birth control services through either their welfare or public health departments.
43. Quoted in Gomes Memo, 1.
44. PPCP Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 1 (October 1966), Planned Parenthood Center of Pittsburgh Papers (hereafter referred to as PPCP Papers); and PPCP Newletter, Vol. 1, No. 3 (April 1967), PPCP Papers.
45. PPCP Newletter, Vol. 1, No. 3 (April 1967), PPCP Papers.
46. Gomes Memo, 1-2.
47. "Family Planning and Maternal Health," 10 May 1967, Homewood-Brushton City Renewal Council, FF 202.M, Box 11B, Rice Papers, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (hereafter referred to as Rice Papers). The OEO funded five programs in 1966; Pittsburgh got in on the ground floor as one of the five. David Epperson, interview with the author at his office at the University of Pittsburgh, 16 October 1992; and Gomes Memo, 1.
48. "Negro Women Set to Defy Militant on Birth Control," The Patriot (7 October 1968): 10.
49. The Pittsburgh Press, 21 August 1968; Hallow, "The Blacks Cry Genocide," 535-37; Mary Smith, "Birth Control and the Negro Woman," 29; "Negro Women Set to Defy Militant," 10; radio transcript in Gomes memo, 7.
50. Campbell, "Case Study," 26.
51. Campbell contended that Greenlee left the HBCRC "when he found that matters had to be handled according to democratic principles." Campbell, "Case Study," 26. Apparently, he preferred to control events rather than simply be an equal participant.
52. Gomes memo, 1.
53. Gomes memo, 3.
54. Hallow, "The Blacks Cry Genocide," 535-37; and Smith, "Birth Control," 29.
55. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 30 July 1974, Haden File, FF 193, Box 11A, Rice Papers.
56. "United Movement for Progress," 8 July 1967, Homewood-Brushton Alliance File, 1967-1968, FF 200, Box 11A, Rice Papers.
57. Campbell, "Case Study," 1, 27-28; "Negro Women Set to Defy Militant," 10.
58. Campbell, "Case Study," 29; and Campbell, interview with the author, 15 October 1992.
59. Radio Sunday, 20 November 1966, WWSW, Radio Broadcasts, 1966, 4th Quarter, FF 759, Box 29, Rice Papers; and "Haden Raps Birth Control Clinic Again," The Pittsburgh Press, 21 August 1968, 18.
60. Gomes Memo, 8.
61. "Mullen's Maneuver," Pittsburgh Catholic, 1966, FF 856, Box 32, Rice Papers.
62. Rice to Editor of Village Voice, 1 March 1968, Correspondence, 1968, FF 637, Box 26, Rice Papers.
63. PPCP Letter of Introduction for Home Visitors, 1 August 1966, Planned Parenthood File, FF 371, Box 18B, Rice Papers.
64. "Population Planners Miss Point," Pittsburgh Catholic, 27 December 1968, 1968 File, FF 857, Box 32, Rice Papers; "Haden Raps Birth Control Again," Pittsburgh Press, 21 August 1968, 18; NAACP, "The Statement by Planned Parenthood that They do not Solicit Clientele in the Black Neighborhoods is an Out & Out Lie," 28 December 1967, Planned Parenthood File, FF 371, Box 18B, Rice Papers; Gomes Memo, 5; Epperson, author interview, 16 October 1992.
65. The goal of CAP was to "attack poverty through a comprehensive plan focused on means of removing the causes of social disorder and bringing people out of poverty and into the mainstream of life in the community." The eight targeted neighborhoods included North Side; Homewood-Brushton; Hill District; South Oakland; Southwest Pittsburgh; Hazelwood-Glenwood; Lawrenceville; and East Liberty-Garfield. The structure of CAP encompassed a Board of Directors responsible for all policy decisions and chaired by the mayor, Joseph M. Barr in this case. The mayor appointed two-thirds of the board members (16) and the neighborhoods elected the remaining one-third, one delegate from each of the eight targeted neighborhoods. "Community Action Program for the City of Pittsburgh," and "CAP Interim Report," both in Community Action Pittsburgh File, Rice Papers.
66. Memo re: Sub-committee Report on OEO Planned Parenthood Clinics from Mayor's Committee on Human Resources Health Advisory Council to MCHR Board of Directors, 3 October 1968, in Campbell notes.
67. "6 Parenthood Clinics Doomed," Pittsburgh Press, 5 February 1969, 1; "Blacks Fear Birth Control?" Pittsburgh Courier, 9 November 1968, 1; and "Dispute on 'Pill,' Race Hits U.S.," Pittsburgh Courier, 30 December 1967, 2.
68. Gomes Memo, 3, 4, 30.
69. Gomes Memo, 4, 5.
70. "OEO Neighborhood Proposals, Fiscal Year 1 July 1967 to 30 June 1968," FF 202.G, Box 11B, Rice Papers.
71. "Planned Parenthood of Pittsburgh Newsletter," 3, no. 5 (May 1969), PPCP Papers.
72. Gomes Memo, 8.
73. This grant came out of the Fund for Aid of Neighbors in Need, established by Bishop John Wright of Pittsburgh. Wright pledged one-tenth of the diocese's uncommitted income to this fund for local programs designed to help disadvantaged areas. "Catholics to Pay Bouie Haden $10,000 Salary," Pittsburgh Courier, 13 July 1968, 1.
74. "Catholics to Pay," 1; radio transcript in Gomes Memo, 8; and "Anonymous Letter to Rice," 11 October 1968, Correspondence 1968, FF 637, Box 26, Rice Papers. For examples of more hate mail and abusive phone calls, see Correspondence 1968, FF 637, Box 26, Rice Papers. Haden also alienated many when he stated on the radio that Jesus was a "coward" who always took a "cowardly out." Radio transcript in Gomes Memo, 9.
75. Epperson, author interview, 16 October 1992; and Campbell, author interview, 15 October 1992.
76. "Negro Women Set to Defy Militant," 10.
77. This threat was serious, according to Reverend Rice's biographer Patrick McGeever. In 1969, Rice discovered a cache of two hundred sticks of dynamite near Holy Rosemary. Fearing it belonged to a group intent on blowing up the church, Rice called the police as well as Haden. After the police disposed of the dynamite, Haden laughed as he told Rice that he had hidden the explosives, planning to blow up birth-control clinics. Deciding not to blast the facilities, Haden had forgotten about the dynamite. See, Patrick McGeever, Reverend Charles Owen Rice: Apostle of Contradiction (Pittsburgh, 1989), 178.
78. Homewood-Brushton File, 1967-1968, FF 200, Box 11A, Rice Papers; "Birth Control Unit Warned by Haden," 1 August 1968, no newspaper title, clipping sent anonymously to Rice, Haden File, FF 193, Box 11A, Rice Papers; "Haden Denies Negroes' Rights," Haden File, FF 193, Box 11A, Rice Papers; and "Planned Parenthood Critics Losing Fight," Pittsburgh Press, 15 August 1968, 41.
79. Gomes Memo, 9-10.
80. Report on Coordinator's Meeting of the Mayor's Committee on Human Resources, 12 August 1968, in Campbell notes.
81. "Negroes Fighting for Birth Control Clinic," New York Times, 11 August 1968, 44; and "Planned Parenthood Critics Losing Fight," Pittsburgh Press, 15 August 1968, 41.
83. Letter from Erroll B. Davis, President Renewal Council, to Mrs. Anne M. Kinney, Director PPCP, 19 August 1968, in Campbell notes; "Planned Parenthood Critics Losing Fight," 41; "Negro Women Set to Defy Militant," 10. The women also gained support from an editorial by Carl Morris of the Pittsburgh Courier: "Bouie has been fighting city bosses from imposing their will on Black people, yet he turns and attempts to impose his will on those same people! Black dictatorship is just as bad as white dictatorship. Neither can be condoned. Women of the Homewood-Brushton area should have a choice in deciding for themselves whether or not they want to avail themselves to Planned Parenthood's services. The 'Pill' should not be forced on them nor should they be denied access to it." Morris, "Comment," Pittsburgh Courier, 3 August 1968.
84. Epperson, author interview, 16 October 1992.
85. Campbell, "Case Study," 36.
86. Campbell, "Case Study," 40; and Campbell, author interview, 15 October 1992.
87. "6 Parenthood Clinics Doomed," Pittsburgh Press, 5 February 1969, 1. For comments by Rice, see Pittsburgh Catholic, 1968 File, FF 857, Box 32, Rice Papers, especially one article in December 1968 entitled "Population Planners Miss Point," in which he stated that "Black militants could use some allies these days in their almost hopeless fight against policies that they justly condemn as genocidal."
88. Rice Papers, Executive Committee Minutes, CAP, 26 March 1969, 9 April 1969, 23 April 1969 and 21 May 1969, Haden File, FF 193, Box 11A.
89. Campbell, author interview, 15 October 1992; Campbell, "Case Study," 42. The six neighborhoods affected were Hill District, Hazelwood, East Liberty-Garfield, North Side, Southwest Pittsburgh, and Homewood-Brushton. The CAP Board was made up of representatives from the public service agencies, civic action groups, and the eight citizens' councils.
90. Campbell, "Case Study," 43; Campbell, author interview, 15 October 1992; Memo re: Planned Parenthood from Health Advisory Council, CAP, to Health Committee Chairmen, Neighborhood Presidents, and Neighborhood Administrators, 26 February 1969, in Campbell notes; and "6 Parenthood Clinics Doomed," 1.
91. "Fight to Keep Parenthood Clinics Vowed," Pittsburgh Press, 24 February 1969, 2.
92. "Women Force Reversal," Pittsburgh Press, 5 March 1969, 1.
93. Campbell, author interview, 15 October 1992; Epperson, author interview, 16 October 1992; and "Good Sense on Parenthood Clinics," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5 March 1969. Records showed that PPCP had 2215 active clients from the poverty areas under question who made a total of 8368 visits during 1968. These figures suggest that clients returned, apparently without coercion, for follow up visits. See Planned Parenthood File, PPCP Papers.
94. "Haden Ousted," Pittsburgh Press, 13 March 1969.
95. Rice Papers, "Brief Summaries of Programs and Budgets for Fiscal 1970," in CAP File.
96. Epperson, author interview, 16 October 1992; "M.D. Column," Pittsburgh Courier, 31 August 1968, 7; "Brief Summaries of Programs and Budgets for Fiscal 1970," in CAP File, Rice Papers; and Campbell, "Case Study," 47.
97. Senate Committee on Health, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Quality of Health Care - Human Experimentation, 93 Cong., 1st sess., 1973, 1562-63; Pittsburgh Courier, 21 July 1973, 3; Barbara Williams, "Blacks Reject Sterilization - Not Family Planning," Psychology Today 8 (July 1974): 26.
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|Author:||Caron, Simone M.|
|Publication:||Journal of Social History|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1998|
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