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  1. Remembering Julian Bond and His Work with Sickle Cell

    February 20, 2017 by Andrea
    By Eduardo Montes-Bradley [CC BY 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

    By Eduardo Montes-Bradley [CC BY 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

    As part of our ongoing Black History Month tradition, we highlight specific pioneers of SCD awareness. Today, we're reflecting on Julian Bond. We all know that Bond was an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, but did you also know about his contribution to helping fight sickle cell?

    In the early years of his 20-year service to the Georgia state legislature -- a seat he had to fight for all the way to the Supreme Court -- Bond wrote and introduced a bill calling for a statewide sickle cell testing program, making Georgia one of just a handful of states that conducted such screenings at that time. The bill "would require the Georgia Dept. of Health and each county board and department of health to 'promulgate appropriate rules and regulations governing tests for sickle cell anemia or sickle cell trait,'" JET reported in its March 23, 1972 issue.

    Since, at that time, sickle cell could not be determined at birth, the bill stated that testing would begin when a baby reached about 6 months old. Because the testing was mandatory and targeted African Americans, however, many people felt that it could be used to discriminate against Black people -- and that definitely did happen.

    As a result, then-president, Richard Nixon, signed the National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act, which forbade discrimination of people affected by sickle cell disease and/or sickle cell trait, made testing voluntary, expanded sickle cell awareness and research programs, and funded those programs with millions of dollars.

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