The Black Panther Party, Pioneers in Modern Medicine

Most people have heard of the Black Panther Party, especially when it comes to protesting for equality for African Americans. The Black Panther Party is known most for their activity in the late 1960s to protest police brutality against Blacks in the Oakland area by arming citizen patrols. As the party soon died formally in 1980 due to FBI counterintelligence activities. One might think that the effects they had on the community died with the party, but the reality is quite the opposite. A lesser-known activism; healthcare, was a major platform for the Black Panther Party. They campaigned against medical discrimination: setup free clinics, raised awareness for genetic disease, and advocated that poor Blacks were underserved by mainstream medicine. The Black Panther Party created the first nationwide screening program for sickle cell anemia. Unfortunately, they were never put into the spotlight for all the good they did in pioneering community healthcare.  

It is crazy to me that the Black Panther Party was so influential in the implementation of community based health programs we see today yet got almost no no credit. This just shows that history is written by the victors so to speak, the Black Panthers didn’t write their own history, white people wrote it for them. In reality, the Black Panther Party spent more time helping the community than they did protesting.

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Learning About The Civil War

When I was growing up in Rochester, New York, I attended a private school that most would consider to be fairly liberal. The school had a rather diverse student body, and was always proud of the efforts that they made to ensure that every student felt included in the community that they had created. When I think back to how we were first taught of the Civil War, my first memory is of hearing about it in a primary school classroom. We learned about the Civil War in a very basic concept, being told that the slave-owning south wanted to separate from the union, who wanted to end slavery. Abraham leads the heroic north against the evil south, and ultimately got killed by supervillain John Wilkes-Booth. For most of my adolescence, the south was portrayed as the villain during this time period. I believe it was around sixth or seventh grade when the idea that the Civil War was originally about states rights and representation in Congress rather than slavery alone, and that Lincoln was not fully against slavery during his presidency. From then on most students seemed to be mature enough to understand that history isn’t as black and white as we make it seem, but prior to that I can remember me and my classmates all seeing the south as the evilest and immoral group in history, while the north was the morally correct heroes.

It makes sense this is how we were taught, younger kids aren’t always able to understand the intricacies that go into war, so it’s easier to give them a background in something simple before introducing them to more complicated subjects. Growing up in New York probably also helped change our perspectives, as we essentially adopted the union as a sort of a “home team.” In the end, making the union the heroes likely did a lot of help in shaping an accepting community, because of how it made us all realize how important equality, freedom, and fair treatment of all people was. It’s because of this upbringing that I’m always confused when I hear about other regions teaching the Civil War from the opposite perspective. The big story I remember hearing fairly recently was the change happening to AP US History, where slavery was to be downplayed and the curriculum was to be made more pro-American While I understand that it’s hard to accept that your family from that region was on the wrong side of history, it still seems counterintuitive to try and insert your own narrative into history. By trying to mask our mistakes it obviously makes it difficult to move beyond them. So to me, it’s more important to try and improve on what the previous generation failed on, instead to trying to make their failures seem like a success.

America’s Greatest Shame

This is a very interesting read about how America seems to have a one-sided conversation about slavery, if that.

America avoids the discussion of slavery because they know it shows the true ugliness of America’s history. When actually mentioning its slavery past, it seems that America attempts to justify their actions. Saying that there were other countries that started slavery way before America did, and stating that slavery was a gift to African Americans because they were better off in America, making slavery the small price to pay to getting out of Africa.

The lack of education in schools and real discussions about the injustices that occurred in the past regarding slavery is the reason this avoidance of conversation occurs. This subject is something that “forces us to then commit to structural changes that the country has not yet gotten ready to address, changes having to do with discriminatory practices — an unequal education system, unequal employment, unequal housing and how we teach our history without including all Americans.” Clearly, America is not ready to face their past mistakes, but this needs to be done to make America the country that represents the views that it supposedly obtains.