As part of their ongoing discussing about public health, Jan Haaken and Patricia Kullberg take up the Black Panther’s vision and practice of community-based health care, which the Panthers formulated in the wake of the urban uprisings of the mid-1960’s. By organizing in African American communities to challenge dominant ideas about Black bodies and the historic exclusion of African-Americans from access to mainstream medicine, they developed a radical public health practice that offers lessons for activists today. The history of the Black Panther health program and its successes have been largely repressed in favor of the more provocative image of Black Panthers as armed militants against the white power structure. For a summary of the health care activism of the Black Panthers and further references see: "No Justice, No Health: the Black Panther Party’s Fight for Health in Boston and Beyond," by Mary Bassett, MD, MPH.
Portland Panther Kent Ford visits with kids at the Black Panther Breakfast Program. Photo from Oregon Encyclopedia.