*A collective side eye toward the medical establishment among Black Americans is rooted in history, but some are aiming to change minds amid COVID vaccine hesitancy.
Descendants of the Tuskegee Study, a 40-year experiment where hundreds of Black men living with syphilis were denied treatment, are speaking out and encouraging people to get vaccinated in a new documentary.
“Knowing that you were denied treatment and that you were lied to would affect anybody,” said Carmen Head Thornton, whose grandfather was a part of the Tuskegee experiment. She told “NBC Nightly News” it’s important to turn the pain of the past into purpose. That’s why she and other descendants of the experiment participated in “Tuskegee Legacy Stories,” a documentary encouraging Black folk to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
Out of 195 million Americans who have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, only 10 percent are African American. But Black people are 2 times more likely to die of the virus than white people.
At just over 5 minutes long, the documentary is part of the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s “It’s Up To You” campaign, which highlights stories from the descendants of the U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee. Their stories set the record straight on what happened, what has changed and what current generations can learn from the experience to build confidence in public health within Black communities, especially as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccines.
Watch the doc in its entirety below: