'Medical Apartheid' Tracks History of Abuses

Joice Heth, the purported 161-year-old "mammy" of President George Washington i i

hide captionAn 1835 flyer announces the appearance of Joice Heth, the purported 161-year-old "mammy" of President George Washington. Hethwas regularly examined by physicians and laypersons alike.

Somers Historical Society and Museum
Joice Heth, the purported 161-year-old "mammy" of President George Washington

An 1835 flyer announces the appearance of Joice Heth, the purported 161-year-old "mammy" of President George Washington. Hethwas regularly examined by physicians and laypersons alike.

Somers Historical Society and Museum
U.S. Public Health Service study subject receives an injection. i i

hide captionIn Tuskegee, Ala., a U.S. Public Health Service study subject receives an injection from a PHS physician. The men underwent procedures that maintained the illusion that they were undergoing treatment for syphilis.

National Archives and Records Administration
U.S. Public Health Service study subject receives an injection.

In Tuskegee, Ala., a U.S. Public Health Service study subject receives an injection from a PHS physician. The men underwent procedures that maintained the illusion that they were undergoing treatment for syphilis.

National Archives and Records Administration

The medical exploitation of African Americans over centuries has caused many black patients to mistrust the medical industry. Author Harriet Washington discusses the history and impact of medical abuse with Farai Chideya.

Washington is a bioethicist and author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans From Colonial Times to the Present.

Books Featured In This Story

Medical Apartheid
Medical Apartheid

The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present

by Harriet A. Washington

Hardcover, 501 pages | purchase

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Purchase Featured Books

  • Medical Apartheid
  • The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
  • Harriet A. Washington

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