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Film screening at genealogy society meeting

The film “The Central Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane,” written and directed by Dr. Shawn Utsey, will be screened at the virtual meeting of the Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society. The meeting will be held Saturday, starting at 11 a.m.

The film is about what is now called Central State Hospital and explores the first psychiatric facility for African Americans and the history of scientific racism, a meeting notice said.

In 1869, the Central State Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane in Petersburg, Va., opened, becoming the first psychiatric facility in the United States to exclusively treat African American patients. According to Utsey, “Many white physicians of the time were among the same ones who had invented psychiatric disorders afflicting Black patients, including drapetomania, a ‘disease’ that caused enslaved Africans to flee captivity. The conditions at Central State when it opened were akin to warehouses,” he said.

Utsey is a p...

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