BLACK HISTORY MONTH IN NJ: We Salute The 'old' Kenny Memorial Hospital

The following is an article written in a section of "Newark Care Facilities" Old Newark:

"Both New Jersey Register and the National Register of Historic Places have recognized Kenney Memorial Hospital/Community Hospital (Mays JC, a hospital for blacks, as achieving historical status. The Newark building, now a church, provided treatment and training.

Star-Ledger. Feb. 27, 2004, p. 35, 38; Waller J. Closing the medical racial divide. In 1927, a doctor's Newark Hospital for black practitioners made history.

Star-Ledger. June 1, 2005, p. 19, 20): At the time of the historic designations, it appears that Kenney Memorial Hospital may be the first and the only hospital in Newark named to both the New Jersey Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

In the May 1999 issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association appeared an article on Kenney Memorial Hospital of Newark, NJ and its founder, Dr. John A. Kenney.

Born into humble beginnings in the rural South, Dr. John A. Kenney may have been one of the most influential African American physicians of the twentieth century. As founder, Associate Editor for eight years, and Editor-in-Chief for 32 years of the Journal of the National Medical Association, he brought the writings and voices of African American medical professionals to live.

Through his vision, courage, and hardiness, Dr. Kenney was a significant contributor to the creation and development of African American organized medicine, the founding of African American hospitals, and the training and employment of African American nurses. Clearly, he was a symbol of leadership in medicine.

In 1923, Dr. Kenney risked his life against the Ku Klux Klan so that African Americans would have the opportunity to run the Tuskegee Veterans Administration Hospital--a newly built facility for African American World War I veterans. It was this stance that forced him to flee Tuskegee, AL, for Newark, NJ.

Now, in over 20 years of medical practice, for the first time, he was without a hospital, i.e., he and his African American clientele were not welcome in the hospitals in Newark. Out of exigency, Dr. Kenney built his own hospital--Kenney Memorial Hospital--and paid for it with his own money. The hospital opened its doors on September 1, 1927, at 132 West Kinney Street, Newark, NJ. This hospital, for many years, was the only hospital that African Americans in New Jersey had access to as physicians, interns and nursing trainees, and patients.

Dr. Kenney had the unique distinction of developing two major hospitals in different regions and separated by a thousand miles. The other hospital was the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital, Tuskegee, AL.

When confronted with discord over the conversion of his private hospital in Newark to a community hospital, he stunned representatives of both opposing hospital committees by donating the hospital to the African American community of New Jersey on Christmas Eve 1934. Dr. Kenney once wrote, "despise not the day of small beginnings."

More than 50 years have elapsed since Dr. Kenney's passing. Who would have thought that those 30 hospital beds on West Kinney Street would have so much meaning today?

The historic site that was once Kenney Memorial Hospital is now New Salem Baptist Church".

INFORMATION & IMAGE CREDIT: "Newark Care Facilities" Old Newark

SPONSORS: Metro Media Institute of Harrison, Nino's Pizza, Bergen Street Harrison NJ, and William Paterson University