A longtime National Rifle Association director is being scrutinized for her support of racist research from the 1970s. Sandra Froman was the NRA president between 2005 and 2007 and remains a board member of the gun group. She is also part of the board of directors of Sturm, Ruger & Company, one of the largest manufacturers of guns in the United States.
Her vote also went through despite recently unearthed evidence of her association with famed physicist William Shockley, who claimed through his research that African-Americans were genetically inferior, according to an investigation by Mother Jones.
“He preached a philosophy of ‘retrogressive evolution.’ Stipulating that intelligence was genetically transmitted, he deemed blacks genetically inferior to whites and unable to achieve their intellectual level,” the New York Times said in Shockley’s 1989 obituary.
Though Froman claims to have only been an assistant to Shockley’s wife while she was an undergraduate student at Stanford, evidence — including recorded conversations between herself and Shockley — show that she helped in his crusade to deem Blacks as inferior.
Froman’s contributions included helping Shockley respond to critics of his works (including the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) decision to not endorse Shockley’s research) as well as trying to bring him to Harvard University, where she was studying at the law school, to debate and promote his findings.
At the time, she did not seem embarrassed nor shy away from the work she was doing, according to Mother Jones. At one point, in a recording, she acknowledges to Shockley that her association with him could be deemed problematic.
“I don’t really advertise it, but there are people at Harvard certainly, and in my class, who know that I did a lot of work for you,” she tells Shockley. “And in some cases, it’s made me a very unpopular person. But those are things I think that those people have to deal with.”
“None of this has been without knowledge of, you know, what was happening,” she told Shockley in a different conversation when he pointed out that she could face consequences for assisting him.
Today she denies the work she did for him, saying that she only helped type his papers.
“I didn’t really know anything about his theories,” she said. “I was just his secretary…and they gave me stuff to type. I typed it… Mostly, I typed what I was told to type.”