Part of the LSA Theme Semester Understanding Race
Between its founding in 1966 and its formal end in 1980, the Black Panther Party blazed a distinctive trail in American political culture. The Black Panthers are most often remembered for their revolutionary rhetoric and militant action. But the activists were also engaged in a broader struggle for social justice in health.
The Black Panther Party's health activism -- its network of free health clinics, its campaign to raise awareness about genetic disease, and its challenges to medical discrimination -- was an expression of its founding political philosophy and also a recognition that poor blacks were both underserved by mainstream medicine and overexposed to its harms. This activism also provides an opportunity to place racial and economic inequality at the center of STS discussions of expertise, medical experimentation, and technological change.