Race, Equity, Health Policy, and
the African American Community
Patricia A. King
Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the
strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Cen-
tury. This meaning is not without interest to you…for the problem of
the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line…the relation of the
darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the
islands of the sea.
W. E. B. Du Bois, The Health and Physique of the Negro American
In order to get beyond racism we must first take account of race. There is no
other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them
Justice Harry A. Blackmun
In 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois, the acclaimed African American scholar, writer, and activist, wrote that the color line would be the problem of the twentieth century. In retrospect, it appears that he was prophetic, but his timeline was too optimistic. One hundred years later, at the beginning of the twentyfirst century, the color line remains a problem for American society.
To be sure, important strides have been made toward achieving equality for African Americans, especially in the last half of the twentieth century. In the landmark 1954 decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka,1 the