The top polio treatment center at Warm Springs, Ga., (above) founded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the nation’s most famous polio victim, admitted only white patients.

The budding civil rights movement protested the discrimination. But instead of integrating Warm Springs, the managers decided to preserve the segregated status quo, opening a separate facility with a few dozen beds to treat Black patients 80 miles away in Alabama (below).

Even into the late 1950s, as vaccines began to bring an end to polio, the disparities continued. Black communities were slower to receive vaccines and their vaccination rates lagged behind those of whites.

In a new short film, we highlight a little-known chapter in the history of another epidemic – polio – to explain racial disparities visible today with Covid-19, which has been much more deadly for Black and Hispanic Americans than whites.

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