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Health Rights Are Civil Rights

Peace and Justice Activism in Los Angeles, 1963–1978

Jenna M. Loyd

Publication Year: 2014

Health Rights Are Civil Rights tells the story of the important place of health in struggles for social change in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 1970s. Jenna M. Loyd describes how Black freedom, antiwar, welfare rights, and women’s movement activists formed alliances to battle oppressive health systems and structural violence, working to establish the principle that health is a right. For a time—with President Nixon, big business, and organized labor in agreement on national health insurance—even universal health care seemed a real possibility.

Health Rights Are Civil Rights documents what many Los Angeles activists recognized: that militarization was in part responsible for the inequalities in American cities. This challenging new reading of suburban white flight explores how racial conflicts transpired across a Southland landscape shaped by defense spending. While the war in Vietnam constrained social spending, the New Right gained strength by seizing on the racialized and gendered politics of urban crisis to resist urban reinvestment and social programs. Recapturing a little-known current of the era’s activism, Loyd uses an intersectional approach to show why this diverse group of activists believed that democratic health care and ending war making were essential to create cities of freedom, peace, and social justice—a vision that goes unanswered still today.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Along the way, so many colleagues have contributed to the intellectual development of this project. First, foremost, and over the long haul is Ruthie Gilmore, who always understood and supported the broadest vision of health politics I could document and imagine. ...


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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction: War, American Exceptionalism, and the Place of Health Activism

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pp. 1-20

Nobel Prize–winning chemist Linus Pauling was not the only peace demonstrator on the streets of Los Angeles in the early 1960s. In April 1961 he and some 2,500 women, men, and children treaded the handful of miles from MacArthur Park south to Exposition Park to demand world peace and disarmament. ...

Part I. Desegregating Health, Transforming Health Care

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1. Urban Geopolitics and the Fight for “Equal Justice in Health Care Now”

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pp. 23-50

When liberal Connecticut senator Abraham Ribicoff came to Los Angeles in 1963 to commemorate the anniversary of a Southland hospital, he exposed the Cold War racial politics shaping U.S. cities and health care. Ribicoff had just served in President Kennedy’s cabinet as the head of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), ...

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2. Watts, the War on Poverty, and the Promise of Community Control

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pp. 51-76

On the night of May 7, 1966, Leonard Deadwyler was driving his wife, Barbara, who was experiencing labor pains, from Watts to Los Angeles County Hospital, some ten miles to the north. Police pulled the car over after a fifty-block pursuit. One of the officers leaned into the driver’s side window with his revolver drawn. ...

Part II. Urban Crisis

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3. Economic Conversion, Survival, and Race in “Dodge City”

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pp. 79-104

Over the Easter and Passover weekend of 1964, an ad hoc committee comprising a broad range of religious, peace, civil rights, labor groups, and progressive political parties held a Walk and Rally for Peace, Jobs and Freedom. This event, and ongoing coalition work, advanced the idea that peace abroad and justice at home were mutual goals: ...

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4. Mothering Underground: The Home in Women’s Welfare and Peace Organizing

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pp. 105-126

In 1959 Vice President Richard Nixon and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev held the storied “kitchen debate” at the American National Exhibit in Moscow. Media crews assembled around the global antagonists, who were staged in a state-of-the-art suburban kitchen. ...

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5. The War at Home: Forging Interracial Solidarities for Peace and Freedom

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pp. 127-150

In late June 1970, three hundred welfare mothers delivered completed job applications for themselves and another seven hundred women to the Los Angeles County Supervisors meeting. They aimed to illustrate the gap between the elected officials’ rhetoric and the women’s desire for work. ...

Part III. Cold War Body Politics

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6. Population Scares and Antiviolence Roots of Reproductive Justice

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pp. 153-180

In 1964 the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a bill to reduce illegitimate child birth by punishing parents with prison time or sterilization. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) quickly published Genocide in Mississippi, in which they analyzed the bill’s intent to “drive Negroes from Mississippi, ...

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7. Where Is Health? The Place of the Clinic in Social Change

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pp. 181-206

Carrying signs that read “People’s health, not MD’s wealth” and “AMA, 1st in war, 18th in infant mortality,” radical doctors joined members of welfare rights, peace, feminist, and gay liberation groups to take over the 1970 annual meeting of the American Medical Association held that year in Chicago. ...

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8. “Property Rights over Human Life”: Taxes and Austerity in the Divided City

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pp. 207-238

Proposition 13 was an anti-tax amendment passed by California voters in 1978 that helped fuel a wave of tax limitation measures across the nation and made taxes the third rail of California politics for decades to come. Health scholar and advocate Geraldine Dallek warned in the Los Angeles Times (which seems to have misspelled her name as Dalleck) ...

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Epilogue: The Right to Health Meets the Right to the City

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pp. 239-248

New light rail tracks gleamed in the street, and construction barriers for landscaping and sidewalks still lined the stretch of Figueroa Boulevard where hundreds of us gathered in December 2010. We had made our way from the second South Los Angeles Health and Human Rights conference to where a community hospital once stood. ...


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pp. 249-292


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pp. 293-322


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pp. 323-344

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About the Author

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Jenna M. Loyd is assistant professor of public health policy and administration at the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. She is the coeditor of Beyond Walls and Cages: Prisons, Borders, and Global Crisis.

E-ISBN-13: 9781452941448
E-ISBN-10: 1452941440
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816676514

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2014