At the height of the civil rights movement, the medical profession began exploring the relationship among race, asthma, and the environment. As asthma hospitalization rates skyrocketed at New Orleans’ Charity Hospital and New York’s Harlem and Metropolitan Hospitals, researchers shifted their focus away from psychosomatic explanations of asthma to the toxicity of black urban locales. By examining asthma hospitalization rates, public housing records, and the work of New York City’s first Commissioner of Air Pollution Control Dr. Leonard Greenburg, this talk explores how emerging asthma research in the 1950s and 1960s bolstered broader African American struggles for equity.
About the Speaker: Ijeoma Kola is a PhD candidate in Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a former National Science Foundation graduate fellow. Her dissertation examines the history of asthma in urban African Americans in the 20th century, with special attention to medical history, environmental racism, and community activism.