By Briana Whiteside
In the concluding chapter of Body and Soul, Alondra Nelson reflects on the influence that the Black Panther Party (BPP) had on society and the remaining member’s future careers. Nelson examines how several members went on into careers in “medical professions, in public health administration, and in health-related community programs” (181).
Through healthcare education, The People’s Free Medical Clinics (PFMC), The People’s Sickle Cell Anemia Research Foundation (PSCARF), projects focusing on limitations of state-supported programs, and strong opposition to the Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence, the BPP “supported the right of poor blacks to shape their social welfare” (184).
Nelson concentrates on how the BPP focused on the “inclusion and exclusion” of African Americans in “civil and social rights” (186). Through the outlet of healthcare, the BPP “recognized how medicine could serve as a vehicle of social control,” which raised consciousness on “how the black body had been a site of domination historically” (187). By seeking equal and social healthcare for black communities, the BPP exposed how “the black body came to represent the broader treatment of blacks in the United States” (187).
Related: URG: Notebook on Alondra Nelson's Body and Soul
Briana Whiteside is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Black Studies Program.