President Joe Biden mistakenly blamed the “Tuskegee airmen” training program for fueling black American hesitancy about the coronavirus vaccine.
“By the way, many of the older members of that community had memories of experimentation on black Americans that were not told about, like what happened, with the, you know, Tuskegee airmen and all those tests,” Biden said. “And so there was a great reluctance.”
Biden spoke about vaccine hesitancy in the black community during an interview with YouTube star Jackie Aina.
But the Tuskegee Flight Training Program was focused on testing and proving the ability of black Americans to fight in combat, not medical experimentation.
Biden was likely trying to refer to U.S. Government Public health officials experimenting on black Americans with the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” The government study, beginning in 1932, recruited 600 black Americans to study syphilis but scientists did not treat them while they suffered the effects of the disease.
That program was exposed by the Associated Press in 1972 and finally shut down, prompting government hearings. The infamous program prompted the black community to be suspicious of public health officials, contributing to their reluctance to get treatments developed and promoted by the government.
Biden also noted that many black Americans suffered overall health disparities as a result of growing up without fresh fruit or lived in poor “fenceline” communities close to chemical plants or oil refineries.
“A lot of African-Americans have found themselves behind the 8-ball because they in fact they were exposed from the time they were children to an environment that wasn’t healthy,” he said.
Biden also asserted that many black Americans did not even have cars, making it harder to get to a nearby pharmacy.
“An awful lot of African Americans, especially older African Americans, may theoretically live within 5-7 miles of a drug store but guess what, that might well be 500 miles from a drug store,” Biden said. “They don’t have an automobile. They have no way of getting there. Not all, but many don’t.”