Cleo Silvers Speaking at ArtRage!

February 17, 2011 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM


Cleo Silvers
Still a Revolutionary – Still Strong

To culminate our special events during the All Power to the People exhibition, ArtRage will host special guest, Cleo Silvers to speak about her work with the Black Panther Party in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. She is a powerful speaker and this is an event not to be missed!

Cleo Silvers came to New York City in late 1966 assigned to St. Anselms Church and the New York City Housing Authority as a VISTA Volunteer (Volunteers In Service To America). By 1967 Cleo Silvers was a community activist in the South Bronx where she had been assigned as a VISTA Volunteer. She became a Community Mental Health Worker and worked with the workers at Lincoln to execute the first work stoppage/Seizure of the Mental Health Services at Lincoln. The workers with the help of members of the leadership of the Black Panther Party, community members and activist doctors ran the Mental Health Services, designed new programs and changed the quality of care for the better over a one month period.

During that struggle, Cleo was recruited into the Harlem Branch of the Black Panther Party in 1968-69. She worked in the South Bronx Free Breakfast Program, Sickle Cell Anemia information project, sold the Black Panther News, attended Study Group and collaborated with the Young Lords Party on a city wide door-to-door preventative health care screening program. She represented the BPP in HRUM until the split in the BPP. At that time, the BPP leadership, Zayd Shakur, Dr. Curtis Powell, Brother Rashid and others sent her to the Young Lords Party to continue the city‐wide health care and labor organizing she had begun at Lincoln Hospital.

After compiling thousands of complaints at the Emergency Room complaint table, with the help of worked with the Young Lords to plan and execute the second take over of the hospital to demand a change in the quality of care offered to the community. Cleo was also responsible for co-writing the “Patients Bill of Rights” which can now be found (in a significantly watered down version) in every hospital room in the country.

In the early 70’s Cleo, as the result of a third takeover at Lincoln Hospital, was the co-founder with Panama Alba of the Lincoln Hospital Drug Rehabilitation Center which is still an internationally, well respected rehab center located in the South Bronx.

Also in 1970, Cleo was sent to Detroit by a vote of the members of HRUM to organize in the auto plants and to become a member of the industrial proletariat (hospital workers are service workers and not directly connected to the “means of Production”), and to represent as a member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and later, the Black Workers Congress.

The focus of her work now is on building unity and understanding of our glorious history; so that we can in preservation of our culture (particularly in Harlem). She is also involved in and expanding the boundaries of the struggle for environmental justice for African-Americans and people of color and fighting gentrification of our neighborhoods.

In June 2010 Cleo became a summa cum laude graduate from Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and National Labor College Collaborative. She is the Director of Outreach at Mount Sinai I.J. Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

This event is free to the public.

This event is sponsored in partnership with Upstate Medical University and DoubleTree Hotels.