The following books were recommended for reading by our guest speaker, Dr. Derryn Moten.
Dittmer, J. (2017). The Good Doctors: The Medical Committee for Human Rights and the Struggle for Social Justice in Health Care. Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi.
In the summer of 1964 medical professionals, mostly white and from northern states, organized the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) to provide care and support for civil rights activists organizing black voters in Mississippi. They left their lives and lucrative private practices to march beside and tend the wounds of demonstrators from Freedom Summer, the March on Selma, and the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968. The MCHR soon expanded its mission to encompass several causes including poverty and the war in Vietnam. The MCHR doctors later realized that fighting segregation would mean not just caring for white volunteers, but also exposing and correcting shocking inequalities in segregated health care. They pioneered community health plans and brought medical care to underserved or unserved areas.
Gamble, V. N. (1995). Making a Place for Ourselves: The Black Hospital Movement, 1920-1945 (1st ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Making a Place for Ourselves examines the black hospital movement, which was a “self-help” effort starting in the 1920’s. The author focuses on three case studies (Cleveland, Chicago, and Tuskegee) to demonstrate how the black hospital movement reflected the goals, needs, and divisions within the African American community--as well as the state of American race relations. Examining ideological tensions within the black community over the existence of black hospitals, Gamble shows that black hospitals were essential for the professional lives of black physicians before the emergence of the civil rights movement. Making a Place for Ourselves clearly and powerfully demonstrate how the issues of race and racism affected the development of the American hospital system.
Hart, T. (2015). Health in the City: Race, Poverty, and the Negotiation of Women’s Health in New York City, 1915–1930. New York: NYU Press.
In the early twentieth century, the New York City Department of Health addressed what it perceived as the racial nature of health. It delivered racialized care, in several neighborhoods, for illnesses such as syphilis treatment among African Americans, tuberculosis for Italian Americans, and so on. As a result, poor, and working-class African American, British West Indian, and Southern Italian women all received some of the nation’s best health care during this period. The program reveals that even the most well-meaning public health programs may inadvertently reinforce perceptions of inferiority that they were created to fix.
Smith, S. L. (1995). Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Black Women's Health Activism in America, 1890-1950. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired moves beyond the depiction of African Americans as mere recipients of aid or as victims of neglect and highlights the ways black health activists created public health programs and influenced public policy at every opportunity. Smith also sheds new light on the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiment by situating it within the context of black public health activity, reminding us that public health work had oppressive as well as progressive consequences.