During the war, the diverse experiences of African Americans as soldiers, laborers, domestic servants, and fugitives caused the meanings of their wounds and illnesses to shift radically. Like their evolution from slaves to free people, the evolution of medical care for blacks was neither straightforward nor predictable. This conclusion suggests that the struggle of African Americans, since emancipation, for the right to health care and the right to become professional healers themselves is an essential part of the story of their struggle for freedom and autonomy. It also contains lessons for the present and future of freedom and health in the United States.
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