Philadelphia Issues Apology to Black Inmates

WHYY reported on October 6 that Philadelphia issued an apology for unethical medical experiments that were performed on Black inmates at Holmesburg Prison between the 1950s and 1970s. Community activists and family members of those inmates raised the need for a formal apology.

Philadelphia allowed University of Pennsylvania researcher Dr. Albert Kligman to conduct dermatological, biochemical, and pharmaceutical experiments that intentionally exposed about 300 inmates to viruses, fungus, asbestos, and chemical agents. The majority of Kligman’s experiments were performed on Black men.

Jim Kenney, Philadelphia Mayor, issued an apology and said the experiments exploited a vulnerable population and the impact of that medical racism has extended for generations. Last year, the University of Philadelphia issued a formal apology and removed Kligman’s name from honorifics such as the annual lecture series and professorship. The university also directed funds to research fellows focused on dermatological issues in people of color.

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