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Charmaine Fuller Cooper
People who were sterilized against their knowledge by N.C. law now have an advocate.

State Administration Secretary Britt Cobb last week appointed Charmaine Fuller Cooper of Durham as executive director of the N.C. Justice for Victims of Sterilization Foundation.

Establishing the foundation was a priority for Gov. Bev Perdue, who included $250,000 in her first budget for its start-up. Lawmakers approved funding to develop a plan to compensate victims of N.C.'s eugenics program, which forcibly sterilized more than 7,600 people between 1929-74.

"I'm excited about this opportunity and see it as a turning point to bringing justice to so many families and individuals affected by this tragic moment in North Carolina history," Cooper said in a statement. "I aim to give them a voice so nothing like this ever happens in state government again."

Cooper's job includes providing support services to members of the still to be named foundation board; establish a charter with guidelines for identifying survivors and their descendants; examine legal options for restitution and potential funding sources; and act as a point of contact with state agencies,...