Shaded under the shadows of a tall tree on the grounds of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery stands a statue of Dr. James Marion Sims, a South Carolinian who spent almost two decades in the Montgomery area, prior to the start of the Civil War, practicing medicine. For many, however, “practicing medicine” is too nice a phrase.
In history, Sims is known as “the father of modern gynecology,” but for his detractors, he has been called “Father Butcher” for his experiments on enslaved women - without anesthesia or what today would be called “informed consent” in the medical community.
His legacy - and the statues dedicated to him for his medical discoveries and advancements in Montgomery, Columbia, SC, and until its removal in early 2018, New York City’s Central Park - only tell part of the story. The whole story requires questioning who Sims was and who the subjects of his experiments were - the mothers of gynecology.
Remembering Anarcha explores these historical figures and issues, along with ethics, race, and the lingering effects on modern society and medicine.
The producers of Remembering Anarcha: (L to R) Royce Williams, Josh Carples, and C. DeWayne Cunningham. Photo: Charles Williams / Lush Photography.