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This essay uses concepts from Bernadette Atuahene’s book We Want What’s Ours: Learning from South Africa’s Land Restitution Program to examine the trend of urban hospital closings. It does so by focusing specifically on the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, a charitable hospital in South Los Angeles, California that emerged after the Watts riots in 1965. The essay illustrates how Professor Atuahene’s framework can generate unique questions about the closing of urban hospitals, and public bureaucracies more generally. The essay also demonstrates how Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital’s trajectory hones some of Atuahene’s concepts in ways that can enhance the ways scholars write and think about the loss of property, the loss community institutions, and ways to remedy such losses.


Systemic racism, land use, health policy, public health

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Chicago-Kent Law Review