Linda Kenney (R) Miller and her sister Diane Kenney (L) remember their grandfather, Dr. John A. Kenney, who founded the first hospital for African Americans in Newark, NJ.
Linda Kenney Miller: He got there and he saw that there was no place for African Americans to be treated, for the doctors to get training, for the nurses to learn their skills. So he took a loan from a bank, and he built a hospital, the first hospital for blacks in Newark in the third ward where there was crime, there was poverty there was illness. And then the Depression hit. And they had to lay off a lot of the staff because they just couldn’t afford to pay them. And he was so busy, that he would schedule surgeries for three and four in the morning because the other time, he was washing linens too, and being the janitor, and doing everything.
There was one occasion where he was downstairs mopping the floors and putting the sheets through the ringer and he had to run back upstairs because it was time to see patients. And he forgot to take off his galoshes. So he went sloshing through the waiting room where all the patients began to snicker, because they were like ”Ok, what kind of doctor is this?”
But towards the end of the depression, Grandpa Kenney was trying to figure out how to keep this hospital functional. And he decided he was going to let it become a community owned property. And the community would invest in it and run it. And on Christmas Eve, he gave the hospital to the community as a Christmas gift. Our grandfather who was the son of ex-slaves… if he can do what he did with nothing… what is our excuse?