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Health & Medicine Remembers Founding Board Member and Social Activist Yolanda "Bobby" Hall

Jul 02, 2015

Yolanda “Bobby” Hall, 93, of Oak Park, Illinois, died at home in Oak Park on June 19.

Hall, a former Assistant Professor at Rush University, was a lifelong social activist and educator. She helped to shape some of the major social movements of her era: unionism, women’s rights, health justice, and civil and constitutional rights.

Hall developed her political consciousness early on. Her first union activity was at age 12, collecting money for families during the New York taxi drivers strike – a strike made famous by Clifford Odets’ 1935 play, “Waiting for Lefty.”

In 1940 Bobby married Charles “Chuck” Hall, her husband of 64 years until his death in 2005.
During the war, Bobby began working at the Bendix aviation plant as a tool grinder. At Bendix, she was the only woman in the all-male domain of the tool room and at first it was tough going, tools were hidden from her and blueprints were changed.

Over time Hall earned the support and respect of her male co-workers. She organized the first union at her shop and in 1944 was elected president of her 3000-strong union local. Hall, together with fellow activist, Sylvia Woods -- featured in the  documentary film Union Maids -- fought for fair treatment for women and against racism within union ranks.

After WWII, Hall embarked on a career in public health. While her children were young she returned to school for her Master of Science in nutrition from the Illinois Institute of Technology and worked as a research nutritionist for the Chicago Board of Health with noted cardiologist Dr. Jeremiah Stamler and others on the early population studies that linked heart disease to smoking and diet.

In 1965, Hall and Stamler were in the forefront of a fight against the House Un-American Activities Committee after being subpoenaed by the McCarthy-era committee. Hall was a leading plaintiff in a court suit that successfully challenged HUAC’s constitutionality on First Amendment grounds -- an 8-year legal effort that contributed to the demise of this notorious congressional entity.

In 1981, Hall, Dr. Quentin Young and nine others, founded the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group. In 2011, HMPRG created the “Bobby Hall Social Justice Internship” in honor of her lifelong commitment to social justice and the elimination of healthcare inequities.

Hall continued her fight for fairness in the workplace throughout her working life and into retirement. In 1995 she founded the Working Women’s History Project, whose mission was to promote education on the role of women and labor in Chicago’s history. She received their Mother Jones award in 2002.

Daughter Toni recalled, “The fabric of our family was that people stood up for the underdog, that everybody was the same no matter what color their skin … those were the family values … it was part of the air you breathed.”

Hall is survived by her three children, Toni Henle, Nancy Hall Brooks and Charles E. Hall, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in the future. For details please contact:
In lieu of flowers, contributions in honor of Bobby Hall may be sent to: Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, 29 E. Madison, Suite 602, Chicago, IL 60602-4404 or to: Working Women’s History Project, 5124 S. Kenwood Ave., Chicago, IL 60215.

Mental Health Advocate M. Fred Friedman, J.D.Selected for 2015 Schweitzer Leadership Award

Jun 05, 2015

The Schweitzer Leadership Award honors an individual who has done significant work to mitigate the social determinants of health in their community, and whose commitment to service has influenced and inspired others. This year, we are pleased to honor M. Fred Friedman, J.D. Mr. Friedman is the co-founder and chief organizer of Next Steps NFP, a nonprofit organization that works to ensure that people with lived experience of homelessness, mental illness, substance use, or addiction are active leaders in the development and implementation of healthcare, housing, and social policies at the state and local levels.

The Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program and Health & Medicine invite you to join us in celebrating Mr. Friedman and his inspiring work at our award event on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 at Loyola University. For more details and to RSVP, click here.

Support HB3718 and Transfer Reform for Illinois Youth

May 20, 2015

Children are not adults.

This simple fact is often lost in Illinois’ Automatic Transfer law which allows children as young as 13 to be charged as adults for certain crimes. The practice of automatic transfers not only runs counter to everything we know about brain development, but is also frequently discriminatory. Research from the Juvenile Justice Initiative shows that children of color are more likely to be charged as adults than children who are White: out of 323 children subjected to automatic transfer, 85% were African American, 13% were Hispanic, and only three children were White.

On May 6, 2015, transfer reform bill senate amendments #1 to House Bill 3718 passed out of the Senate Criminal Law Committee. This bill would grant juvenile court judges greater discretion in determining whether youth should be tried as juveniles or adults and represents a huge victory for youth in Illinois.

Health & Medicine's Court-Involved Youth Project encourages you to tell your state representative that you believe that Illinois children should be treated as children. Call your representative and ask them to support amendment 1 to HB3718. The progress that has been made is due to the support of advocates like you, and your continued support is essential to ensure passage of this vital legislation.

20th Class of Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Announced

May 14, 2015

Health & Medicine and the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program are pleased to announce the members of the 2015-16 Fellowship class. Thirty exceptional health professions graduate students (selected from among nearly 100 applicants) will participate in the the prestigious Schweitzer Fellowship – a year-long service learning program that empowers Fellows to design and implement projects that help address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities.

The 2015-16 Schweitzer Fellows include students from 12 area universities and a diversity of health professions and public service fields including medicine, nursing, dentistry, psychology, social work, law, and public health. The Program’s interdisciplinary approach exposes students to real-world inter-professional, collaborative care, addressing the triple aim of the Affordable Care Act. This year’s Fellowship recipients belong to the 20th class of Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows and join a network of more than 500 Chicago program alumni who have provided over 100,000 hours of community service over the course of the Program’s history. Click here to read the full press release and click here to see the full list of Fellows and their service projects