Life of activist Dr. Quentin Young celebrated

Doctor to Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama, Black Panther clinics, dies after illustrious career

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CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST Dr. Quentin Young treated Barack Obama before be became the nation's first Black president.

Chicago Crusader staff report

He fought and treated for Blacks at a time when many whites stayed away from people of color.

Dr. Quentin Young was different. A devoted civil rights activist and renowned doctor whose patients included some of the most prominent Black leaders and civil rights organizations in American history, Quentin was known as the doctor of the Civil Rights Movement. Today, thousands are remembering him as a significant leader who fought for health care reform long before Obamacare was established.

A memorial service for Young has been tentatively planned for May, according to news reports.

The retired 92-year-old doctor who for many years ran a private practice in Hyde Park, died Monday, March 7 at his daughters house in Berkeley, Calif. He was 92.

“The country has lost a legend and I have lost a dear friend. After a long and eventful life dedicated to the least of these, Dr. Quentin Young has died,” said Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr., founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in a statement. “Known as the movement’s doctor, the people’s physician, Dr. Young traveled to Mississippi during Freedom Summer to provide free and desperately needed medical care to indigent sharecroppers and to the brave but broke SNCC college students risking their lives to make America better.”

During his career, Young’s patients included Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and former Mayor Harold Washington. Before he became the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama was another patient who developed a close relationship with Young.

Young marched with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. He treated King when he was struck by a rock during a demonstration in 1966. Young also treated protesters injured by police during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and was a tireless advocate for more resources during his nearly 35 years at Cook County Hospital.

Young was also known for his passionate advocacy for equality in health care. He spent more than 25 years advocating for a single-payer health care system in the United States, a cause he continued to fight for until his death on Monday.

Young’s push for healthcare equality led him to the nonprofit Physicians for a National Health Program, where he served as national coordinator.

“Dr. Young was known for his sharp, clear-eyed analysis of social and economic problems, particularly in health care, his deep commitment to social justice and racial equality, his quick wit, his insuppressible optimism, and his ability to inspire those around him to join him in the battle for a more equitable and caring world,” the group’s president, Robert Zarr, said in a statement.

Zarr shared as an epitaph a quote from Young’s 2013 autobiography, “Everybody In, Nobody Out: Memoirs of a Rebel Without a Pause.” In it, Young wrote: “From my adolescent years to the present, I’ve never wavered in my belief in humanity’s ability — and our collective responsibility — to bring about a more just and equitable social order.”

Young became a doctor in the early 1950s, and came of age as an activist during the civil rights era, campaigning for more equitable access to medical treatment. He was viewed as the moral voice of public health in Chicago, and often appeared on local radio.

In news reports, Zarr said Quentin grew up in a community of progressives, absorbing leftist politics that drew him to work with civil rights groups. Young marched with and cared for King when he was in Chicago. He also worked at local Black Panther health clinics. A tireless advocate for human causes, Quentin founded the Medical Committee for Human Rights, a group of doctors who gave medical support to demonstrators during the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi.

While running his private practice, Young also worked at the Cook County Hospital, where he rose to chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Young retired in 2008. Even after giving up his medical practice, he vowed to keep fighting what he called the “corporate takeover” of American medicine.

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