Museum to honor Dr. John A. Kenney, founder of Black hospital in Newark

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By Bradford Mason
Managing Editor

A museum honoring the late founder of one of New Jersey's first Black hospitals is being planned according to reports.

The late Dr. John A. Kenney opened Kenney Memorial Hospital in Newark in 1927. The hospital became later renamed the Booker T. Washington Community Hospital in 1935, and closed down in 1953. The building where the hospital was housed is now New Salem Baptist Church, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Kenney Memorial Hospital was built during segregation when Black doctors were not able to work hospitals intended for white patients.

Reports indicate that efforts are being made to turn the building into a museum. The non-profit organization "The Friends of Dr. John A. Kenney" hopes to make the museum reality. As of now, a plaque sits in front of the churhe's building detailing the hospital's history.

“We want it to be classy," New Salem Baptist Church Senior Pastor John K. White said in a published interview. “We want a historical feel when you come down into that room. We always want people to remember that it was a medical hospital."

Kenney was born in 1874 in Albemarle County, Virginia and received his education at Hampton University and at the now closed Leonard Medical School at Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. Kenney became a medical director and chief surgeon of the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

The co-founder of the National Medical Association (NMA), he was elected president of the organization in 1912 and was also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the National Medical Association. Kenney moved to New Jersey in 1924 after receiving threats from the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama. He was the personal physician for Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver.

Kenney died in 1950 in Glen Ridge, N.J. at age 75.

Linda Kenney Miller, Kenney's granddaughter who lives in Marrietta, Georgia, said in an interivew that a museum would let people know about the impact her grandfather made in the medical field.

“He did so many things in the field of medicine, but nobody knows his name," she said. "“I’m determined not to let our ancestors be forgotten. I think we owe them a debt of gratitude."

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