Denver Poet Gives Voice To Enslaved Black Woman Who Endured Medical Experiments

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Photo: Dominique Christina Poet
Dominique Christina's latest poetry collection "Anarcha Speaks: A History In Poems" explores the story of Anarcha, an enslaved black woman who endured medical experiments.

It's just one horrifying, but little-known, story in the history of American slavery.

How in the 1800s, Dr. J. Marion Sims, a white doctor considered to be the "father of modern gynecology," experimented on enslaved black women.

One of those women was named Anarcha. In her new poetry collection "Anarcha Speaks: A History In Poems," Denver poet Dominique Christina writes from the perspective of both Anarcha and Dr. Sims. Christina talked to Colorado Matters about the project.

Dr. Sims' experimentation on female slaves using crude tools and no anesthetic to study a debilitating condition resulting from prolonged labor is well-documented. The women were ruined physically and mentally, and died young.

Christina's fascination with Anarcha's story began when she saw an asterisk next to her name in a book. That asterisk sent the poet down a rabbit hole of research. She saw that Sims received recognition, while Anarcha and the other women he experimented on were just footnotes in history. Christina was determined to give Anarcha a voice through her poetry.