Current discourse will at times admit that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study exploited Blacks as living subjects for purposes of “scientific advancement” to ultimately prove race based differences. This was a historical tragedy that laid the foundation for mandates on conducting research on human subjects. However, an overlooked extension of the aforementioned historical tragedy is the ‘her-story’ of the Black women of Tuskegee who were directly impacted by the study. Medical education currently recounts the most noted biomedical research study on human subjects, but without critically examining the marginalization of the Black women directly impacted. These women were not only worthy of being acknowledged then, but are worthy today of acknowledgement during recounts of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. A transformative remedy that utilizes a reproductive justice framework would address the biomedical significance of women and research in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The implementation of culturally competent curricular content delivery that satisfies medical education accreditation standards as to the teaching of the Tuskegee Syphilis study would serve as a necessary step toward addressing race, gender, and research disparities in the healthcare field. Thus, a culturally competent curriculum could assist in the attainment of reproductive justice and lead to an increased trust of public health initiatives within the African American community.


Associate Professor of Law, Florida A&M University College of Law, J.D., Southern University Law Center; LL.M, Georgetown University Law Center.