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CDC Foundation Launches Scholarship Fund For Descendants Of Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Victims

CDC Foundation Launches Scholarship Fund For Descendants Of Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Victims

Black communities continue to grapple with the enduring trauma inflicted by the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments, which spanned over four decades from 1932 to 1972. However, the descendants of Black men affected by this study may soon receive financial relief with a new scholarship fund.

On Wednesday, the CDC Foundation announced the new Voices Today for Change Tomorrow scholarship program. The global nonprofit is working toward raising a $5 million endowment to bolster the Voices for Our Fathers Legacy Foundation scholarships. According to a news release, these scholarships will grow to provide $100,000 annually in merit-based scholarships to descendants of those involved in the study.

“By making a commitment to honor the legacy of these men, we are working to provide a stronger foundation of support for the next generation to build change,” Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, said. “These scholarships are intended to amplify the voices of the next generation, allowing them to honor the life experiences of their ancestors while pursuing innovative solutions across their fields of study.”

Lillie Head, president of Voices for Our Fathers Legacy Foundation, shared how the scholarship aims to create generational healing after decades-long mistreatment of Black men.

“Descendants of the 625 African-American men dehumanized and unethically treated for 40 years are moving forward with generational healing, working to bring good from the United States Public Health Service Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male. Our purpose is to transform the legacy of the longest-lasting, non-therapeutic study in U.S. medical history from shame and trauma to honor and triumph,” Head stated in a news release.

The unethical study, conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service, purposely withheld treatment from hundreds of Black men with syphilis, and deceived them into believing they were receiving medical care, according to the CDC. This betrayal of trust resulted in significant harm, with many participants facing severe health consequences, including blindness, paralysis and death. In contrast, their families endured the emotional toll of witnessing their loved ones’ suffering.

Furthermore, the profound impact of this injustice resonates through the victims’ descendants, who still face the consequences of medical racism, distrust of health care systems, and intergenerational trauma caused by this appalling violation of human rights.

While the CDC scholarship fund offers financial support to these families, the scars left by the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice and equal health care for Black communities.

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