Friday, April 08, 2016

Remembering Quentin Young: Physician, Human Rights Champion

Remembering Quentin Young: Physician, Human Rights Champion

by Stephen Lendman

On March 7, he died at his daughter’s home in Berkeley, CA at age 92. Cook County Health & Hospitals System executive medical director, Dr. Claudia Fegan, called him “a giant in public health.”

He was “a radical, a rebel, a tiger for social justice,” explained health consultant Michael Gelder.

He attended the University of Chicago, performed military service during WW II, received his MD from Northwestern Medical School in 1948.

In the 1950s, he worked to desegregate Chicago hospitals. In the early 1960s, he co-founded the Medical Committee for Human Rights.

Chicagoans like myself remember his passion for social justice, notably universal healthcare he championed for many years.

He was an honored guest on my Progressive Radio News Hour, discussing his advocacy for universal healthcare at length, a passion we both share.

In 2008, he retired from private practice after 61 years, serving in numerous capacities throughout his long career - treating ordinary people with the same dedication as notables like Martin Luther King, famed author Studs Terkel, Mayor Harold Washington, and the Beatles, among many others.

His partner, Dr. David Scheiner, was Obama’s personal physician during his Chicago years before becoming president.

He was a founding member of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), was Clinical Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Illinois-Chicago Medical Center. 

In 1964, he founded and served as national chairman of the Medical Committee for Human Rights - established to provide free healthcare for civil rights workers, community activists and summer volunteers during Freedom Summer in Mississippi - a volunteer social justice campaign to help state African Americans, including registering them to vote for the first time.

He was chairman of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group he founded in 1980, served as American Public Health Association president.

He appeared regularly on air and at public events championing universal healthcare, calling it “the only solution…no longer the best one.” 

“All other alternatives have been proven disastrous failures” - including Obamacare designed by health industry giants for their self-enrichment, at the expense of full and equal treatment for everyone.

He once said he championed “unpopular causes,” later becoming mainstream ones. 

Ralph Nader called him “a physician for all seasons - for his patients, for public health facilities, for workplace safety, and for full Medicare for all people with free choice of doctors and hospitals.”

In retirement, he continued working tirelessly for universal healthcare - everyone given world-class care when needed, no one left out or treated unequally.

Noting his passing, PNHP president Dr. Robert Zarr highlighted “his deep commitment to social justice and racial equality, his quick wit, his insuppressible optimism, his personal courage, and his ability to inspire those around him to join him in the battle for a more equitable and caring world.”

In his 2013 autobiography, titled “Everybody In, Nobody Out: Memoirs of a Rebel Without a Pause,” he 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.” 

“I’ve always believed in humanity's potential to create a more caring society.”

“That viewpoint has infused my relations with family, friends, patients and medical colleagues. It's been a lifelong, driving force to promote equality and the common good…”

“I’ve spent a lifetime trying to help others. (It’s been a) deeply rewarding career. Few people have such good fortune.”

He added his “work is unfinished.” He’s survived by three daughters, two sons, a stepdaughter, a stepson, nine grandchildren and five step-grandchildren.

He called being part of the human race an obligation to serve it. He’s sorely missed.

Speaking at my June 14, 1956 commencement, Jack Kennedy said “if more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a little better place in which to live…”

If more politicians and others were like Quentin, imagine how much better.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.