Politics

Vermont Conversation: Does Vermont need a Truth Commission?

Rep. Tom Stevens, D-Waterbury, is chair of the committee that created a bill that apologizes for Vermont's eugenics movement. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman is a VTDigger podcast that features in-depth interviews on local and national issues with politicians, activists, artists, changemakers and citizens who are making a difference. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts or Spotify to hear more.

In 2021, the Vermont Legislature issued a long overdue apology for Vermont’s early 20th century state-sanctioned eugenics movement, which targeted Indigenous people and other groups. According to VTDigger, “The eugenics movement used forced sterilizations and other practices in an attempt to wipe out targeted populations who were deemed unfit to procreate, including Indigenous people, French Canadians, mixed-race people, people with disabilities and low-income families, among others.”

In issuing the formal apology, Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint declared, “This is a moment for grief, but it’s also a moment for growth.”

The apology left unspoken how to undo the harm. Now, a bill in the Vermont House, H.96, proposes that Vermont establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine what happened and possible reparations. We talk with Rep. Tom Stevens, chair of the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs, and a sponsor of the bill, and Virginie Ladisch, a senior expert at International Center for Transitional Justice.

“We’re trying to build something that represents the beginning of a longer conversation between those of us who are part of the system and the people that we’re needing to listen to during this process,” says Stevens.

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David Goodman

About David

David Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the author of a dozen books, including four New York Times bestsellers that he co-authored with his sister, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, New York Times, Outside, Boston Globe and other publications. He is the host of The Vermont Conversation, a VTDigger podcast featuring in-depth interviews about local and national topics. The Vermont Conversation is also an hour-long weekly radio program that can be heard on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on WDEV/Radio Vermont.

Email: [email protected]

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