Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream The History of Homer G. Phillips Hospital by Candace O’Connor (Hardcover)
Nothing about Homer G. Phillips Hospital came easily. Built to serve St. Louis's rapidly expanding African-American population, the grand new hospital opened its doors in 1937, toward the end of the Great Depression, amid a national period of institutional segregation and
strong racial prejudice. When the beautiful, up-to-date hospital opened, it attracted more black residents than any other such program in the United States. Patients also flocked to the hospital, as did nursing students who found there excellent training, ready employment,and a boost into the middle class.
But the 1960s and 1970s brought less need for all-black hospitals, as faculty, residents, and patients were increasingly welcome in the many newly integrated institutions. Ever tightening city budgets meant increasingly less money for the hospital, and in 1979, despite protests from the African-American community, HGPH closed. Candice O'Connor draws upon contemporary newspaper articles, institutional records, and her own oral history project to tell the first full history of the Homer G. Phillips Hospital—as well as brings new facts and insights into the life and mysterious murder (still an unsolved case) of the hospital's namesake, a pioneering Black attorney and civil rights activist who spearheaded the efforts to raise funds to build the sorely needed medical facility to the Ville.
About the Author
Candace O’Connor is a freelance journalist and the author of 14 books, including histories of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Central West End, as well as A Song of Faith and Hope: The Life of Frankie Muse Freeman. She also wrote and co-produced a PBS documentary, Oh Freedom After While: The Missouri Sharecropper Protest of 1939, which won a regional Emmy award. She lives in St. Louis with her husband.
Published by University of Missouri, February 2022, Hardcover, 330 pages.