Syphilis Study

This is a story of good intentions gone awry - of small lies, of deceit, of suffering and heartbreak, of questionable ethics, of entanglements small and large, of racism.  And perhaps, most importantly, loss of trust among people, their community and their government.

And what belief was used to justify all this:  The doctors said that if a few had to suffer for the greater good of the rest, it was worth it.  From the artist's statement.

The Greater Good
An Exhibit of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

"The Greater Good" is an exhibit of photography, video and sculpture, which re-examines moral and ethical questions raised about the practice of human experimentation, specifically the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.

The exhibit is free and open to the public this summer (May 29 - August 31), Monday - Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center, 104 South Elm Street in downtown Tuskegee.

The Study

In 1932, the U.S. Public Health Service recruited 623 African American men from rural Macon County, Alabama, for a study of "the effects of untreated syphilis in the Negro male." For the next 40 years - even after the development of penicillin, the cure for syphilis - these men were denied medical care for this potentially fatal disease.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study was exposed in 1972, and in 1975 the government settled a lawsuit, but stopped short of admitting wrongdoing. In 1997, President Bill Clinton welcomed five of the study survivors to the White House and, on behalf of the nation, officially apologized for the experiment.

For more information on the study and its effects click here.

The Artist

Tony Hooker is an artist from San Francisco, California. He received his MFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art institute in 1995. He has been featured in one person exhibitions and group shows in California.

While his artwork is strongly based in photography it frequently includes other media such as music, video, and installation motifs. His subject matter generally incorporates a social theme asking the viewer to re-examine some well-founded ethical or moral principle.

In his current show, "The Greater Good," Hooker uses the story of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment as a metaphor for medical experimentation to re-examine all of the moral and ethical questions raised by such events in today's contemporary society while honoring those that participated in this infamous event in our nation's history.

The Center

The formation of the Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center was publicly announced at the White House in May 1977 during a formal apology ceremony for the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. During the ceremony, study survivor, Herman Shaw, now deceased, requested support for a "permanent memorial" to acknowledge the contributions he and the other men made as participants in the study. The center is a non-profit organization which recognizes the human and civil rights contributions of Native Americans, European Americans, and African Americans.

For more information contact
The Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center
104 South Elm Street, Tuskegee, AL
Phone (334)724-0800