Miss Evers Boys Essay

'' We don't like to talk about that in the same breath.'' Yet while '' Miss Evers' Boys'' attempts to illuminate its story with the glare of authenticity, questions of factual fidelity always arise -- as with Oliver Stone's '' Nixon,'' or Ron Howard's '' Apollo 13'' -- when pages of history books are rewritten into pages of a director's script.This is no less true for the cinematic retelling of the Tuskegee study, a sensitive subject that is still creating reverberations, including a willingness among some blacks to consider maladies like AIDS and crack addiction part of a genocidal conspiracy against them by whites. Jones, author of '' Bad Blood,'' an exhaustively researched 1981 book about the Tuskegee study, said in a recent interview that the syphilis experiment had become a kind of ''trump card.'''' It sort of provides proof to many people that things which you think are outrageous and could never happen not only can happen but have happened,'' said Dr.

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HISTORY as docudrama revisits television on Saturday in the HBO presentation '' Miss Evers' Boys.'' The film, based on a Pulitzer Prize-nominated play of the same name, is an examination of one of modern America's darkest chapters of medical research and racial exploitation.

The movie, its producers say, is a fictionalized interpretation of the true story of the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, a 40-year project in which the United States Government tracked the deadly course of the venereal disease in hundreds of infected poor black men living in or around Tuskegee, Ala.

That never happened, according to Fred Gray, a longtime resident of Tuskegee and the lawyer who represented the survivors and their heirs in a $1.8 billion class action suit against the state and Federal governments. Gray accepted a $9 million settlement from the Government for his clients. Gray said he had not seen the film, but he ''understands that some scenes in it are not accurate.'' A chief element he considers problematic is turning the story on the black nurse and reducing the characters representing governmental power and the medical establishment into little more than a blur of white faces.'' I think she was as much a victim as the men themselves were victims,'' Mr. '' Nobody could expect one black woman in Alabama in 1932, when the Federal Government is employing her, to do something.

How could she resist and say, ' I'm not going to do it.'?

Jones said Nurse Rivers, who died in 1984, once characterized her work with the 600 men as ''the joy of my life.'' In the film, she has an affectionate, bittersweet relationship with a syphilitic field hand who announces his love for her.

The field hand, played by Laurence Fishburne, who is also an executive producer for the movie, eventually learns the truth about the study when he runs off to join the Army.A point of reference was a similar syphilis study conducted from 1891 to 1910 on white men in Norway.In the Tuskegee experiment, 399 of the men were infected with syphilis and 201 were in a healthy control group.'' Robert Benedetti, an executive producer of the film, which was made by HBO New York City and Ted Danson's Anasazi Productions, countered: '' I think the movie is fundamentally accurate.There are certainly no misrepresentations in it.'' He acknowledged, however, that the film focused on the personal story of Miss Evers for the sake of drama.Many of the participants died prematurely when they could have been saved.Almost all of those stricken suffered horribly as they were systematically deceived by Government doctors, most of whom were white.Death, autopsies and funerals were routine features of the program, which ran from 1932 to 1972.Some doctors were curious to know whether black men apart from their skin were significantly different from whites.Jones, a professor of history at the University of Houston. In the movie, Eunice Evers, played with thunder and tears by Alfre Woodard, was in real life, Eunice Rivers Laurie.She was a constant, complex presence in the study, seeing it through from its modest inception to its demise after it was reported in the press and denounced by the public.


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