Talk:Margaret Sanger

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Former good article Margaret Sanger was one of the Social sciences and society good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
October 17, 2011 Good article nominee Listed
August 21, 2015 Good article reassessment Delisted
Current status: Delisted good article

KKK supported[edit]

When Sanger died in sept of 1966 the klu klux klan declared a national day of morning. Sanger efforts to kill off the black race was way more effectivethan anything than the KKK ever did. The KKK flower arrangement was the biggest at her funeral by far.

This is an absurd lie sourced to neo-Nazi gossip sites, and popular among those who know all about KKK mourning days. MarkBernstein (talk) 16:22, 31 March 2017 (UTC)

Actually Margret Sanger was a 40 year member of the KKK from her May of 1926 speech to the Woman's branch of the KKK till September 1966 at her death. She received life membership for giving the speech. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:805:4201:1737:BD1A:25C7:F0AE:8DEE (talk) 02:35, 1 April 2017 (UTC)

No sources, because untrue. Interesting, though, how you are so well informed about internal affairs of the ku klux klan! MarkBernstein (talk) 03:04, 1 April 2017 (UTC)

I should be I have a PHD in history and did my doctoral thesis on Margaret Sanger and her Nazi and KKK connections. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:805:4201:1737:3517:8C7A:6809:6555 (talk) 13:47, 1 April 2017 (UTC)

Fascinating. If you did have a doctorate in History from a legitimate university, I'm confident you'd know the value of solid sources and have little trouble providing them. You'd also have noted the incongruity of these supposed connections between Sanger and the KKK, given the extremely well-documented and personal connections between Sanger and W. E. B. DuBois (one of the founders of the NAACP and author of The Souls of Black Folk), Sanger and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (later the recipient of the first Sanger Prize), and other black leaders. You'd also be familiar with the history of this canard as a talking-point in American Neo-Nazi propaganda, and know how to disassociate yourself from that movement. You might also know that, in English, the names of months are capitalized and that the word “efforts” is plural. An essay by Terry Krepel, former editor of Media Watch, describes A Right-Wing Professor’s Disinformation Campaign Against Margaret Sanger" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-krepel/a-right-wing-professors-d_b_8101086.html. MarkBernstein (talk) 17:33, 1 April 2017 (UTC)

Page protection[edit]

Rare to protect a talkpage, even temporarily. Regrettably necessary in this case. Apologies to any legitimate IP editors who wanted to contribute here; please feel free to come back when the protection expires. -- Euryalus (talk) 02:20, 4 April 2017 (UTC)

Views on race (part 2)[edit]

Wikipedia is not a forum, nor are talk pages suitable places for publishing original research.
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.


In a 1921 article in the Birth Control Review, Sanger wrote, "The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective." Reviewers of one of her 1919 articles interpreted her objectives as "More children from the fit, less from the unfit." Again, the question of who decides fitness is important, and it was an issue that Sanger only partly addressed. "The undeniably feebleminded should indeed, not only be discouraged but prevented from propagating their kind," she wrote.

Sanger advocated the mandatory sterilization of the insane and feebleminded." Although this does not diminish her legacy as the key force in the birth control movement, it raises questions much like those now being raised about our nation's slaveholding founders. How do we judge historical figures? How are their contributions placed in context?

It is easy to see why there is some antipathy toward Sanger among people of color, considering that, given our nation's history, we are the people most frequently described as "unfit" and "feebleminded."

Many African American women have been subject to nonconsensual forced sterilization. Some did not even know that they were sterilized until they tried, unsuccessfully, to have children. In 1973, Essence Magazine published an expose of forced sterilization practices in the rural South, where racist physicians felt they were performing a service by sterilizing black women without telling them. While one cannot blame Margaret Sanger for the actions of these physician, one can certainly see why Sanger's words are especially repugnant in a racial context.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has been protective of Margaret Sanger's reputation and defensive of allegations that she was a racist. They correctly point out that many of the attacks on Sanger come from anti-choice activists who have an interest in distorting both Sanger's work and that of Planned Parenthood. While it is understandable that Planned Parenthood would be protective of their founder's reputation, it cannot ignore the fact that Sanger edited the Birth Control review from its inception until 1929. Under her leadership, the magazine featured articles that embraced the eugenicist position. If Sanger were as anti-eugenics as Planned Parenthood says she was, she would not have printed as many articles sympathetic to eugenics as she did.

Like Many Modern Feminists, Sanger Ignored Race and Class

Would the NAACP's house organ, Crisis Magazine, print articles by members of the Ku Klux Klan? Would Planned Parenthood publish articles penned by fetal protectionist South Carolina republican Lindsey Graham?

The articled published in the Birth Control Review showed Sanger's empathy with some eugenicist views. Margaret Sanger worked closely with W. E. B. DuBois on her "Negro Project," an effort to expose Southern black women to birth control. Mary McLeod Bethune and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. were also involved in the effort. Much later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted an award from Planned Parenthood and complimented the organization's efforts. It is entirely possible that Sanger Ôs views evolved over time. Certainly, by the late 1940s, she spoke about ways to solve the "Negro problem" in the United States. This evolution, however commendable, does not eradicate the impact of her earlier statements.

What, then, is Sanger's legacy?

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has grown to an organization with 129 affiliates. It operates 875 health centers and serves about 5 million women each year. Planned Parenthood has been a leader in the fight for women's right to choose and in providing access to affordable reproductive health care for a cross-section of women. Planned Parenthood has not supported forced sterilization or restricted immigration and has gently rejected the most extreme of Sanger's views.

In many ways, Sanger is no different from contemporary feminists who, after making the customary acknowledgement of issues dealing with race and class, return to analysis that focuses exclusively on gender. These are the feminists who feel that women should come together around "women's issues" and battle out our differences later. In failing to acknowledge differences and the differential impact of a set of policies, these feminists make it difficult for women to come together.

Sanger published the Birth Control Review at the same time that black men, returning from World War I, were lynched in uniform. That she did not see the harm in embracing exclusionary jargon about sterilization and immigration suggests that she was, at best, socially myopic.

That's reason enough to suggest that her leadership was flawed and her legacy crippled by her insensitivity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.144.192.209 (talk) 20:14, 15 April 2017 (UTC)

Nonsense. The Banner talk 20:22, 15 April 2017 (UTC)

How can you suppress all the factual negative input your "site" has received???? Revisionist history - just like Papa Joe Stalin! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.144.192.209 (talk) 19:48, 16 April 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Work with the African American community[edit]

"New York University's Margaret Sanger Papers Project says that though the letter would have been meant to avoid the mistaken notion that the Negro Project was a racist campaign...." The MSPP's interpretation of the controversial Sanger quote is widely accepted among historians and probably correct; however, the cited newsletters reveal that the MSPP is a pro-choice organization with an ideological investment in defending Sanger's legacy. For example, the first citation, "The Demonization of Margaret Sanger" repeatedly refers to anti-abortion organizations as "anti-choice groups," a pejorative epithet rejected by anti-abortion advocates. It also acknowledges that Sanger's grandson was both the president of Planned Parenthood of NYC and a member of the MSPP's advisory board at the time the newsletter was written. I suggest that the innocent explanation for Sanger's "exterminate" quote should remain, but a more neutral source should be used: e.g., http://time.com/4081760/margaret-sanger-history-eugenics/ or http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2015/oct/05/ben-carson/did-margaret-sanger-believe-african-americans-shou/. (I'm new to Wikipedia editing and would appreciate help with appropriate sourcing.)

In addition, the second half of the sentence, "conspiracy theorists have fraudulently attempted to exploit the quotation 'as evidence she led a calculated effort to reduce the black population against their will'," is tendentious, and I suggest that it be deleted or carefully reworked. The source of the quote in this passage is again the MFPP. On the other hand, both Time (linked above) and the Washington Post describe the controversial Sanger sentence as "inartfully written." Sanger's "exterminate the Negro" quote is certainly capable of honest misinterpretation as well as "fraudulent exploitation." Omitting the former explanation for the misuse of Sanger's words while using the language of an ideologically slanted reference to assert the latter smacks of bias. 173.73.58.75 (talk) 03:06, 20 June 2017 (UTC)

no. No contemporary misinterpreted Sanger's unambiguous and daring embrace of Civil Rights. Reliable sources agree that the misinterpretation is a right wing conspiracy theory. MarkBernstein (talk) 10:35, 20 June 2017 (UTC)

Agree about her support of African American Civil Rights. The problem is with the discussion of her one quote, "We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members," and the biased source for that discussion. It seems to me that present-day readers ignorant of historical context could and do misconstrue this particular quote in good faith. Her association with racist members of the contemporary eugenics movement also seems to have contributed to the fairly widespread misapprehension that Sanger herself was racist. If reliable, non-partisan sources exist for the claim that the racist interpretation of Sanger's quote was put forth by conspiracy theorists, these sources should be cited instead of MSPP, and the group that originally promulgated the conspiracy theory should be named, if possible. Claiming that the political use of this misinterpretation is strictly a right-wing phenomenon is also inaccurate, as Angela Davis was also misled by Sanger's statement. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.73.58.75 (talk) 11:06, 20 June 2017 (UTC)

Why would people be more deeply swayed by Sanger’s supposed and superficial association with some eugenics fans, than with her lifelong and extremely famous association with the founders and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement? I see no objection, however, to adding the Washington Post and Time as additional sources. Since this canard is constantly re-introduced here at frequent intervals, either coincidentally or by a systematic campaign by one or more puppets, additional sourcing might make it clear that the misinterpretation so often advocated by extremist and terrorist groups is not encyclopedic. MarkBernstein (talk) 15:23, 20 June 2017 (UTC)

Re why people would be swayed - nearly everyone suffers from confirmation bias. I'll put my hand up: I'd never read enough about Sanger's biography to know of her Civil Rights connections, but as a pro-lifer, I never before questioned the popular (in my circles) sound byte that Sanger was particularly interested in suppressing black births. When I came across an article that seemed to contradict that assumption, I came to Wikipedia to get the facts. I'm extremely grateful to have been corrected, but I'm not grateful that I had to check multiple references to become convinced because Wikipedia's sole source for its rebuttal of my erroneous beliefs was full of language insulting people like me and questioning our motives. That is why I suggested the changes above. An encyclopedia can best serve the truth (and in this case defend Sanger's legacy from ignorance like mine!) if its readers feel assured that it is not written to serve a political agenda.

Once again, the MSPP references in this paragraph should be replaced, not just supplemented, by unbiased ones, and the reference to "fraud" and "conspiracy" should be deleted or supported by better sources. MSPP seems like an essentially reliable source of scholarship on Sanger's life and work, but it cannot be trusted as a source on pro-life interpretations of Sanger for the same reason that a group that refers to pro-choice people as "anti-life" cannot be trusted as a source on pro-choice advocates' motives and ideas - even if the rest of its scholarship is sound.

I don't want to derail this topic's focus on these suggested edits, but if you regard Sanger's association with the eugenics movement as "supposed and superficial," you may be suffering from some confirmation bias of your own, MarkB. The "Eugenics" section of this article makes interesting reading.67.108.126.82 (talk) 00:46, 21 June 2017 (UTC)

What part(s) do you consider insulting? MFNickster (talk) 01:01, 21 June 2017 (UTC)

I’m familiar with the intellectual history of eugenics, 67; in the future, kindly restrict your commentary to proposed edits, not editors. The Wikipedia article already includes many sources that confirm Sanger’s deep and abiding involvement with the civil rights movement, but you are free to add additional sources if you like; they are not difficult to find. MarkBernstein (talk) 22:55, 21 June 2017 (UTC)

@MFNickster: One of the cited MSPP articles repeatedly refers to anti-abortion groups as "anti-choice." This term is offensive and inaccurate: pro-life advocates obviously do not oppose all choice, just the particular choice to procure an abortion. The "anti-choice" epithet is used by some in the pro-choice movement to frame the debate in their preferred terms and to characterize pro-life advocates as inimical to women's freedom. No pro-life group accepts this term, and organizations that use it sacrifice their credibility as impartial evaluators of the claims and motives of pro-life groups.
The second reference from the MSPP is much more even-handed and avoids inflammatory language and accusations. It also refrains from accusations of fraud, conspiracy theory, and intentional deception on the part of those who have misinterpreted Sanger's words. I'd be OK with keeping this particular MSPP reference, but it does not support the fraud and conspiracy claims of this paragraph, which I still believe should be removed.
(OP here - I finally made an account.) Madesci (talk) 15:05, 22 June 2017 (UTC)