Official history never quite captures the whole story.
Sometimes, we need the memories of those who were there to really understand. And that’s especially true of great public institutions like Community Health Centers. It’s hard to imagine our city without them—but I remember when they didn’t exist. And I remember how ABCD, Boston’s Community Action Agency, not only helped start the first Community Health Centers, but stepped in, more than once, to make sure they survived.
The sixties were a difficult time in America’s cities, full of protest and racial strife. Out of that unrest, new ideas were emerging. While no one had yet said, “Black lives matter,” some were acting in that spirit. But the new ideas were fragile, struggling for life. One such idea was the dream of community health centers,—places that would finally do something about the fact that, as Dr Jack Geiger said, “The poor get sicker and the sick get poorer.”
This was one of the most audacious ideas to come out of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (EOA) created many …