A black couple from Georgia died of COVID-19 after refusing to get vaccinated because of lack of trust - due, in part, to a past racist medical experiment in which black men from Alabama were denied treatment for syphilis.

Martin, 53, and Trina Daniel, 49, of Savannah succumbed to the virus within three hours of each other. They died July 6.

The couple, married for 22 years, are survived by their two children, a 15-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son.

Services for the couple were held on Saturday. Their deaths were first reported by WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Family members said the two were fearful of getting vaccinated because they distrusted the medical establishment after the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. 

Starting in 1932, when Alabama and the rest of the South were still segregated, government medical workers withheld treatment for unsuspecting men infected with syphilis in Tuskegee and surrounding Macon County so physicians could track the disease.

The study, which involved about 600 men, ended in 1972 only after it was revealed by The Associated Press.  

Martin, 53, and Trina Daniel, 49, of Savannah, Georgia succumbed to the virus within three hours of each other. They died July 6

Martin, 53, and Trina Daniel, 49, of Savannah, Georgia succumbed to the virus within three hours of each other. They died July 6

The couple, who were married for 22 years, are survived by their two children - a 15-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son

The couple, who were married for 22 years, are survived by their two children - a 15-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son

The couple refused to get vaccinated due to past racist medical experiments in which black men from Tuskegee were denied treatment for syphilis

The couple refused to get vaccinated due to past racist medical experiments in which black men from Tuskegee were denied treatment for syphilis

In 1932 public health researchers enrolled hundreds of black sharecroppers with syphilis in a medical study in Tuskegee, Alabama. For more than 40 years the researchers administered invasive tests while withholding treatment so they could track the effects of the disease. The image above from the 1950s shows a doctor drawing blood from a black man in the syphilis study in Tuskegee, Alabama

In 1932 public health researchers enrolled hundreds of black sharecroppers with syphilis in a medical study in Tuskegee, Alabama. For more than 40 years the researchers administered invasive tests while withholding treatment so they could track the effects of the disease. The image above from the 1950s shows a doctor drawing blood from a black man in the syphilis study in Tuskegee, Alabama

Vaccine hesitancy is highest among black Americans, according to CDC data. The graph above shows blacks are the racial group with the second-lowest rate of first-dose vaccination in the country

Vaccine hesitancy is highest among black Americans, according to CDC data. The graph above shows blacks are the racial group with the second-lowest rate of first-dose vaccination in the country

The graph above shows the racial breakdown among those who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

The graph above shows the racial breakdown among those who have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine

Savannah, Georgia latest city to reinstate mask mandate
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A lawsuit filed on behalf of the men by black Tuskegee attorney Fred Gray resulted in a $9million settlement, and then-President Bill Clinton formally apologized on behalf of the US government in 1997.

But the damage left a legacy of distrust that extends far beyond Tuskegee.   

Mistrust of the medical community in the United States is high among African-Americans, according to the latest research.


A May survey showed black people were half as likely to say they'd get the COVID-19 vaccine compared to white participants.

What's more, black participants were 1.5 times more likely to report that they didn't trust the US medical community.

Vaccine hesitancy is more entrenched than among white people even though black Americans have been hit disproportionately hard by the virus.

'Just tying these two events together and understanding the historical context of what's going on...it really wears on me sometimes,' said Cornelius Daniel, Martin's nephew.

'It's imperative that we see the importance of the vaccinations.'

'They were both just lovely people,' Quintella Daniel, Martin and Trina’s niece, told WSAV-TV.

'To know them was to love them. Just as their kids, to know them is to love them as well.'


GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money for the couple’s two children.   

Quintella remembered the couple as fierce advocates for education who always encouraged their loved ones to strive for more.

'I'm really gonna miss him. I'm gonna miss him my whole life. Him and my aunt Trina, both,' Quintella said.

Quintella, a nurse, has seen her fair share of COVID-19 patients. She said vaccine hesitancy is having devastating consequences for the community.

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