Why Does The Lasker Foundation Refuse to Acknowledge Its Founders’ Racist Roots?


If you visit the Lasker Foundation’s website   https://laskerfoundation.org/ and click  “About Us.”  this is what you will find:


  “Our Mission

To improve health by accelerating support for medical research through recognition of research excellence, advocacy, and education.

What We Do

We celebrate the contributions of scientists, clinicians, and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of human disease. Our programs educate the public and promote scientific collaboration, and we advocate for a healthier world through medical research.

The Legacy of Albert and Mary Lasker

Mary Woodard Lasker (1901–1994) was a champion of medical research. She and her husband, pioneer advertising executive Albert Davis Lasker (1880–1952), established a legacy of advocacy and philanthropy in support of science and health.

Mary Lasker was one of the country’s best known and most effective activists in the cause of increased public funding for medical research. For decades, she tirelessly persuaded the American public that the national investment in medical research would yield invaluable benefits for human health. Her simple warning was, “If you think research is expensive, try disease!” Mrs. Lasker’s early efforts focused on developing public support to advance research on cancer. She founded the Citizens Committee for the Conquest of Cancer and took her cause to Congress and the American public as a leading proponent of the National Cancer Act, which was signed by President Nixon in 1971. Her ardent advocacy for greater government funding of all the medical sciences contributed to increased appropriations for the National Institutes of Health as well as the creation of several NIH institutes.

Mary Lasker’s work transformed the medical research enterprise, which earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. As a permanent monument to her efforts, in 1984 Congress named the Mary Woodard Lasker Center for Health Research and Education at the National Institutes of Health.”

But what you won’t find on the website is the fact that Albert Lasker was the main financial backer of the infamous and racist “Negro Project.”  He donated at least $20,000 (worth approximately $1/2 million today.)  The Negro Project was the brainchild of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.  The goal of the Negro Project was to promote birth control among Blacks.  The project set up birth control clinics in the South.  Here is transcribed letter from Sanger to Dr. Clarence Gamble in 1939 mentioning Lasker’s role in the project:


Casa de Adobe Catilina Foothills Tucson, Arizona

November 26, 1939

Dr. Clarence Gamble

255 Adams St.

Milton, Mass

Dear Dr. Gamble:

It is good to know that you are better again and now we must all see that your ulcers must never again be worried. Miss Rose sent me a copy of the letter that Dr. Morris wrote to Mr. Lasker. I know a copy was sent to you. I am rather distressed the way the project is about to be handled, yet I believe there is nothing much I can do about it. None of my suggestions seem to get to first base these days and so the best thing to do is not to send them on, but I feel very sad over the lack of vision with which this Negro project is to be handled. Both Mrs. Rinehart and I put in a lot of thought on this and there is no doubt that if the first thousand dollars is wisely expended, we can depend upon a generous contribution for the future. I object strenuously to putting all of our eggs in one basket; in other words, to take either North or South Carolina as the nucleus. What I wish to see is the employment of an up and doing modern minister, colored, and an up and doing colored medical man, both to come to New York and train at the Clinic and at the Federation. Until they are oozing with birth control as well as population…. They should then be sent out to cover the South and as many cities and organizations and churches and medical societies as they can get before to preach and preach and preach! That should be the job for them both for at least six months. On a second round as a checkup, they would soon find what impression was made and after one year of education agitation among the colored people, we could then support a practical campaign for supplying the mothers with contraceptives.

Naturally, one would ask why North and South Carolina does not already give such information and supplies to their colored people, and while I have great respect for Dr. Cooper, Norton, Sibilis – I do not believe that this project should be directed or run by white medical men. The Federation should direct it with the guidance and assistance of the colored group – perhaps, particularly, and specifically formed for the purpose. I hope these few words will not cause you to worry but doubtless you have become philosophical and feel that those on the job at 501 had best run the show.

Ever my best regards.


(Albert Lasker, Negro Project Funder)

Sanger’s racist roots have been well established from her own writing to her association with Nazis and Klansmen although she appeared to prefer the company of communists

In her December 10, 1939, letter to Gamble, Sanger wrote:

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Sanger’s contemporary apologists explain that her critics misinterpret her meaning. But her earlier words belie that contention. For example, in her book The Pivot of Civilization, she advocated for the “elimination of human weeds,” and for the sterilization of “genetically inferior races.” The fact that she enlisted the likes of white supremacist Lothrop Stoddard and Dr. Ernest Rudin, the man in charge of Nazi Germany’s forced sterilization program doesn’t help the case of her apologists.

The “Mrs. Rinehart” mentioned in the letter was none other than Mary Lasker.  Mary was married to art dealer Paul Reinhardt prior to her divorce and marriage to Lasker.  Mary was a close friend of Sanger who in 1938 became the president of Sanger’s Birth Control Federation of America renamed Planned Parenthood Federation.

(Mary Lasker giving Lyndon Johnson the 1966 Lasker Award.  Johnson, along with M.L. King, received the 1st Annual Margaret Sanger Award that same year.)

I discovered this information while researching the correspondence between Sanger and   Dr. Clarence Gamble housed at the  Harvard Medical School Library.  I published the letters in the book The Racist Roots of Planned Parenthood and its Legacy of Death which can be ordered here:  The Racist Roots of Planned Parenthood and Its Legacy of Death | campconstitution.net   or a free PDF here:  https://campconstitution.net/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Racist-roots-of-planned-parenthood-proof.pdf

Prior to the book’s publication, I reached out to the Lasker Foundation to see if they had a statement on the racist and white supremacist roots of its founders.  They never replied.  I have reached out a few times since with the same results.  Ironically, Gamble’s organization Pathfinder, at least acknowledges its founder’s racist roots not that it forced its leadership to end its founder’s vision: controlling the births of non-whites.  Even Planned Parenthood has felt the heat.  Due to exposure of Sanger’s racism, it has discontinued its Margret Sanger Award in 2015 and even renamed one of its abortion mills

Will the Lasker Foundation acknowledge the racist roots of its founders?  That is all up to the readers, especially those in the media.  I recommend that readers of this article contact the Lasker Foundation and perhaps sent them a link to this article and ask when they will come clean and denounce its racist roots.  The Lasker Foundation’s contact info:

Mailing Address:

405 Lexington Ave, 32nd Floor

New York, NY 10174

E-mail:  info@laskerfoundation.org

Telephone:  212-286-0222