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Kenney Memorial Hospital

"Celebrating the Legacy of  Kenney Memorial Hospital "

Newark, NJ

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 8 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 life.  Through his vision, courage, and hardiness, Dr. Kenney was a major 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.  Dr. John Kenney and the Staff of the   Community Hospital  (Kenney Memorial Hospital ) in 1935.

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 as physicians, interns and nursing trainees, and patients. Dr. Kenney had the unique distinction of developing two important 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 edifice , formerly known as the Kenney Memorial Hospital , is now the New Salem Baptist Church  of New Jersey and has been declared a State and National  Historical Landmark. As result of  Dr. Kenney's outstanding contribution to the Newark community  and New Jersey as a  whole, New Salem Baptist Church was named to the  National Register of Historical Places in March 2004 .

Contributing Source: Old Newark Web Group

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