People's Medicine: Acupuncture, Liberation and Recovery

Work by James Shelton, Kate Kampmann, and Eana Meng

November 13, 2020 – January 22, 2021

Please join us for this inaugural art show featured in The Benz Gallery at RICARES. 

“People’s Medicine” presents an illustration of the Liberation Acupuncture Movement. Liberation Acupuncture is a conceptual framework for acupuncture that affirms that individual health and disease do not exist, and cannot be understood or addressed, apart from social conditions – particularly injustice, inequality, and the pervasive influence of traumatic stress. 

133 Mathewson Street, Providence, RI, 02903

Gallery Hours:
Fridays, 12 – 6 PM

Questions: contact Jen at jvincent@ricares.org

Acupuncture has been used by community activists for recovery

from addiction, traumatic stress and other ailments since the 1970’s. This talk will explore topics such as: What are the barriers to widespread use of acupuncture in underserved communities? What does liberation acupuncture look like going forward?

Talk Participants

Eana Meng,
MPhil, student Harvard University

Dr. Tyler Phan,
Ph.D., LAc, University of Pittsburgh

Lisa Rohleder,
LAc, Executive Director POCA Tech

James Shelton,
DAOM, Ancora Acupuncture


Ana Bess Moyer Bell, MA, RDT

Virtual Gallery

Mutulu Shakur, 2017

Mutulu Shakur, 2017

Mutulu Shakur was born in Baltimore in 1950. Shakur became the assistant director of the Lincoln Detox, a community organized drug detoxification clinic in an occupied building at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx which was founded in 1970 by the Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Afrika, and the Young Lords. After its closing Shakur went on to found the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America (BAAANA) as well as the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture. Shakur has been incarcerated since 1986. There is an ongoing campaign for his clemency.


Ing ‘Doc Hay, 2017

Ing Doc Hay was born In Guangdong Province circa 1862.  An herbalist and pulsologist, Hay arrived in John Day, Oregon and established Kam Wah Chung, a general store that functioned as an apothecary and community center for the Chinese immigrant community, referred to as Tiger Town. Hay endured institutional racism; the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented him from leaving the country for fear of not being let back in. He also encountered day-to-day racism in the form of drunken cowboys who were known to shoot up Tiger Town for fun. Bullet holes can still be seen at Kam Wah, a national heritage site, where Hay continued to treat the people of John Day long after most of the Chinese community had moved on.


Ing ‘Doc Hay, 2017

Drawn portrait of a white man with blue border

Gustavo Gutiérrez, 2017

Drawn portrait of older hispanic man with red border

Gustavo Gutiérrez, 2017

Gustavo Gutierrez was born in Lima, Peru in 1928. He is an originator and leading proponent of Liberation Theology. He is attributed with the phrase, “a preferential treatment of the poor”  If a practice doesn’t work for the poorest people, then it doesn’t work. This ethos is foundational to Liberation Acupuncture.

Miriam Lee, 2017

Miriam Lee was born in China in 1926. Lee was a midwife and Master Tung trained acupuncturist. She lived in Taiwan and Singapore before finally arriving in California. She started treating her friends from her factory job and her church and her popular results drew ever growing crowds. She was accused and prosecuted of practicing medicine without a license in 1974. Overwhelming community support helped to free her and ultimately led to the legalization of acupuncture in California in 1976. She developed a still popular five point protocol specifically for the stress of modern life.


Miriam Lee, 2017

Drawn portrait of asian man with gold border

Michael Smith, 2017

Drawn portrait of older white man with red border

Michael Smith, 2017

Michael Smith was born in 1942. In 1974, he became the director of Lincoln Detox, a community organized drug detoxification clinic in an occupied building at Lincoln Hospital in the South Bronx which was founded in 1970 by the Black Panther Party, the Republic of New Afrika, and the Young Lords. After it was shut down he started NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association), which sought to train healthcare providers to perform ear acupuncture. NADA is also a leader in acupuncture research outlining the effectiveness of this simple, affordable treatment.


Master Tung, 2017

Master Tung Ching Chang was born in Shandong Province circa 1916. He moved to Taiwan during the Chinese Revolution. His family lineage of acupuncture used quite a different system than what became known as Traditional Chinese Medicine. He would have been prosecuted if he had not conformed. Tung’s acupuncture makes great use of distal points making it ideal for community acupuncture. He could treat 100 people in a day. Tung also stepped out of his family tradition by training many outside practitioners, including Miriam Lee.

Master Tung, 2017

Drawn portrait of asian man with blue border

Ignacio Martín-Baró, 2017

Drawn portrait of hispanic man with red border

Ignacio Martín-Baró, 2017

Ignacio Martín-Baró was born in Spain in 1942. He worked largely in El Salvador. A proponent of Liberation Psychology, Baró was adamant that the practice had to work for the specific group. One could not import European styled psychology for the Central American people with their different experiences of imperialism and poverty. Baró was assassinated by the US trained El Salvadorian Army in 1989.

More information about Radical Community Acupunture

Acupuncture has a long history of helping underserved communities with addiction, trauma and pain. In the State of Rhode Island, a law allowing increased access to acupuncture has passed the senate in 2019 and in 2020. It has yet to get a vote in the house.
This petition is asking for support of this bill or a similar one in 2021 to increase Acupuncture access in Rhode Island 

In the Hands of the Revolutionaries and Communities: A Social History of Acupuncture 

A two-part video series created by Eana Meng on the lesser known history of the use of acupuncture by Black revolutionaries of the 1970s and modern day practitioners in all different settings — from recovery clinics to prisons. These histories are all about unexpected connections, much like acupuncture itself.

Visit the website for Mutulu Shakur, who is currently in prison and has been since the mid-80s. There is a campaign for his compassionate release.

POCA Tech Community Acupuncture school website 

A scholarship fund for students of color at POCA Tech

People’s Organization for Community Acupuncture Website  

National Acupuncture Detox Association Website

Liberation Acupuncture website


The Benz Gallery is generously supported by

Partridge Snow & Hahn