Race, Sexuality, and the "Progressive Physician": African American Doctors, Eugenics, and Public Health, 1900-1940
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This thesis will examine how African American doctors interpreted eugenic thought in the early twentieth century. African American doctors embraced eugenics for its potential to improve the health of their race, thus bringing about a kind of "biological racial uplift." African American doctors thus drew on their discipline to pursue a form of eugenic activism that had internal and external ramifications for the race. . Even though African Americans faced medical injustice, they were not simply the victims of eugenics and scientific racism. They were also critics and proponents of eugenics. The first chapter will address how eugenics shaped African American discussions of public health, and how eugenic ideas about sex and sexuality influenced their discourse and understanding of venereal disease. The second chapter will examine how African American doctors discussed birth control, compulsory sterilization, and abortion within the context of racial uplift.