I am asking that any discussion of Margaret Sanger stay on this thread. There are serious issues in our community and none of them have one damn thing to do with Margaret Sanger.
I think it is important to note that all historical figures must be evaluated in their own place and time. Additionally, the language changes over time. Let’s start with Thomas Jefferson, one of my favorite historical figures.
I grew up in the shadow of Thomas Jefferson, in Charlottesville, Virginia. I lived in a house off of Rugby Road less than three blocks from Mr. Jefferson’s University. In Charlottesville, everything is Jefferson. He is our hometown hero. He, Jack Joutte and Paul Goodloe McIntire are the three most mentioned town heroes. Jefferson’s influence is certainly national in scope. He is the author of the Declaration of Independence, Revolution visionary, one of the most prominent thinkers of his time, inventor, statesman, diplomat, first secretary of state and president for two terms.
Yet to some, Jefferson was a racist, a pedophile, a debtor, heathen , and a welcher. He owned slaves, allegedly had a child by one of his slaves who he had relations with when she was still a fairly young teenager. He went into debt to the point that his possessions had to be sold. He was not a Christian in the traditional sense of the word and he went back on his word to many people.
So what is he? Devil or angel?
Much the same can be said of Sanger. Devil or Angel? To those of us who celebrate women being in control of their own reproduction, she earns angel marks. To those who want to vilify her because she was an early intellectual feminist who took on some of the activist movements of her day, she is a devil. Those who oppose abortion, contraception and Planned Parenthood have attempted to use her correspondence and letters to cast what I consider a skewed picture of a woman who was motivated by ending unplanned pregnancy. She had watched her own mother die from the complications of simply too many childbirths.
She was not motivated by racism. Was she racist? I would guess that most people at the turn of the century would probably be considered racist by today’s standards. I do know she wanted black women to limit their child bearing because she felt continual childbirth and more children than people could afford kept them in generational poverty. It helps to read her autobiography to grasp her intent. She lacked late 20th century political correctness in her rhetoric.
Did she believe in eugenics? Definite eugenics. We practice eugenics every day in this country when we encourage pregnant women to eat healthy for two. We know that healthy eating creates healthier children. We also do genetic testing.
What she is not is a person who has anything to do with the Youth for Tomorrow kids.