Posted April 9, 2008 – The NAACP Tuesday condemned comments from a member of the Charleston County (S.C.) School Board who said that teen mothers and unmarried women who have more than one child should either be sterilized or have subsequent children removed from their custody.
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Nancy Cook, (pictured in a charleston.net photo above) a county council candidate who also sits on the school board, told a radio jock on WTMA-AM’s morning show April 3 that it was difficult to understand why society still tolerates teen pregnancy and babies born to unwed mothers and into poverty.
"We're not standing up as people and saying that we've had enough of that,” she told the host. “We're not paying for another baby, maybe one baby, but after that, we're taking the baby. And maybe you get sterilized. I know that sounds kind of extreme and radical, but we're in times to where — think about America . When is it OK for America not to be No. 1? When did we get out of that?"
Nelson B. Rivers, III, who runs the NAACP’s field operations, called the comments offensive.
“Her words are especially insulting coming from a female in the American South, where poor women were once involuntarily sterilized and often labeled as ‘unfit mothers’ because of their color or economic class,” he said.
Cook says that her words, which she said as a private citizen and not as a counselor or school board vice chairwoman, have been taken out of context.
Lonnie Randolph, Jr., president of the NAACP’s South Carolina State Conference, said, “An experienced politician and servant of the people should know better than to use such divisive words. It is regrettable that a public official who derives her livelihood from families in transition, and is sworn to serve the highest interests of children and families. should appear to hold such contempt for them. They deserve better. Every decent caring citizen must expect better.”
The association wants Cook to recant her remarks and seek sensitivity training, “where she can fully understand why they were egregious and hurtful.” It would also like for the school board to denounce her comments and reprimand Cook.
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