MSA wants Sanger’s portrait to remain

Brett Knapp

Margaret Sanger’s portrait is safe from the Minnesota Student Association, but Tom Gromacki said the issue is not dead.
MSA members voted at their Tuesday forum 27-8 to reject a resolution requesting the removal of Sanger’s picture from Wilson Library and the use of Sanger’s name and ideologies in Boynton Health Service’s advertisements. Gromacki, one of four MSA members to author the resolution, said minority groups at the University and around the Twin Cities will not give up the fight to have the picture removed.
Minority groups “will stand up about this,” Gromacki told members of the forum. “Do we stand up for them, or do we allow ourselves to be run over by those who wish to glorify the patron saint of their liberal effort?”
Sanger, the early 20th-century founder of Planned Parenthood, held racist views and promoted eugenics to help eliminate undesirable racial and genetic characteristics.
Gromacki said he has spoken with members of the African-American and Jewish communities on campus, although representatives from the Africana Student Cultural Center were not present at Tuesday’s forum.
Alan Holt, an African-American pastor and former Gopher quarterback, spoke to the forum on the importance of the resolution to the black community.
Holt said Sanger’s ideas led to the intentional sterilization of black women in the South and in urban centers early in the century, and that her promotion of birth control led to reckless sexual behavior among young blacks that has carried over to today.
“You don’t need any more evidence,” Holt said. “It’s like watching the Rodney King tape … and saying you need more evidence.”
Opponents of the resolution said they recognized Sanger’s controversial viewpoints, but did not want to send a message that censorship, especially in University libraries, is a positive thing.
MSA president Helen Phin said the University needs to respect all individual viewpoints. “That’s why we have Hitler’s book next to Martin Luther King’s book or speeches,” Phin said.
But resolution supporters said removing the picture would not be censorship. “We’re not taking out books on Sanger’s views,” said resolution co-author Bill Gilles.”We’re taking down a picture.
Gromacki said Sanger’s views are welcome in the library, but the University should not advocate them by keeping her portrait on display.
University librarian Tom Shaughnessy said Monday that the library would not remove the picture regardless of the result of Tuesday’s vote. But Boynton officials said they will reconsider the use of Sanger in their ads sometime this week.