Uprising Radio interviews Alondra Nelson
A Florida challenge to President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is headed to the Supreme Court – an announcement is expected this week. It is the strongest of the more than two dozen legal challenges facing the President’s signature healthcare bill over the year and a half since it was signed into law. Despite the plethora of lawsuits, few judges have been eager to issue opinions against the law, and only three of twelve appellate judges who have had the chance to review the constitutionality of the insurance mandate part of the law, have opposed it. The fight for universal health care has a long history in the United States with many individuals and organizations incorporating the right to decent healthcare into their larger struggle for social justice and human rights. One such organization was the Black Panther Party. We remember the Black Panther Party today as the most potent symbol of organizational militant Black power in the 70s. But few know the emphasis that the party put on healthcare, through its network of free clinics, its fight to end medical discrimination, and its education campaign on genetic diseases that African Americans are more prone to. Now, on the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party, that legacy of healthcare activism has been documented in a new book by Alondra Nelson, a Sociology Professor at Columbia University. In her book, Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, Nelson tells the story of how the Black Panther Party and its various leaders, placed such a strong emphasis on their community’s access to medical care that they eventually made the demand for free healthcare for all people, an explicit part of their ten-point program.