WRL Activist Update: Linnea Capps, MD

Linnea Capps

Photo by Ed Hedemann

Linnea Capps, pacifist activist, physician engaged in liberation medicine (the conscious, conscientious use of health to promote human dignity and social justice), and philanthropist for more than 40 years, recently left her longtime home in Brooklyn, NY, to live in a care facility in Kansas. She, along with her cats Rosie and Flora, is now living close to her hometown and to her sister, brother, and sister-in-law.

Linnea was the chair of WRL’s executive committee between 1983 and 1985, a member of the committee for several decades, and an energetic participant in countless conferences, meetings, and demonstrations to promote nonviolence, an end to war, and social justice. In addition, she served on the board of directors of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute for several years.

In 1978, Linnea participated in a WRL civil disobedience action that got extensive worldwide attention: unannounced simultaneous actions—unfurling banners and handing out leaflets calling for an end to nuclear weapons and nuclear power—in Moscow’s Red Square and on the White House lawn. A participant in the Washington, DC, action, she was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to a fine and probation. (In contrast, the seven WRLers arrested in Moscow were held briefly and then released.)

A year later, she engaged in arguably her most daring civil disobedience, on Armed Forces Day. As a member of a group that sat in the street at the head of a parade led by marching horses. Again, she was arrested.

Linnea’s career as a primary care physician has demonstrated an equal commitment to social justice. An infectious disease specialist, she ran a clinic for the Harlem AIDS community when other doctors shunned people with the disease, and later served other poor and marginalized clients in New York City urban hospitals and clinics.

For decades Linnea has been an active board member of Doctors for Global Health (DGH), a nonprofit organization promoting health, education, art, and other human rights throughout the world. She was its president for several years. Under DGH’s auspices, she lived in a rural area of El Salvador for more than a year to serve individuals without another source of medical care. Subsequently, she periodically provided medical services in other Central American countries and spent several months each year in Chiapas, Mexico, working in the local hospital. She most recently traveled several times to Kisoro, Uganda, where she directed a DGH project for Montefiore Hospital medical residents.

Linnea’s WRL friends wish her happiness and good health in her new home.