raceandpolioDuring the twentieth century, the United States experienced challenges delivering a polio treatment program for all Americans, irrespective of “race, creed or color.” In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his law partner Basil O’Connor formed the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP) to battle the viral disease poliomyelitis. In 1944, NFIP officials hired educator Charles H. Bynum to head a new department of “Negro Activities.” Between 1944 and 1954, Bynum negotiated the NFIP bureaucracy to educate officials and influence their national health policy. He helped increase interracial fundraising in the March of Dimes, improve polio treatment for black Americans, and further the civil rights movement.

Historical Scholarship