The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was conducted by government-funded researchers from the Tuskegee Institute between 1932 and 1972 in Macon County, Alabama to examine the progression of syphilis in poor African-American men. The region was known as the “Black Belt” in reference to the high number of African-American sharecroppers who were the economic engine of the region. When penicillin was discovered as an effective medication for the disease in 1947, researchers refused to to administer it, choosing instead to continue the study. In 1972, journalist Jean Heller broke the story and an enraged public forced the researchers to put an end to the study. Government inquiries condemned the study as unethical and in 1973 a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the study participants. In 1974 a $10 million settlement was reached and all living participants were promised lifetime medical benefits by the U.S. government.