Missourians say new hospital's name is 'no way to honor' slain civil rights leader

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Some Missourians are accusing a new hospital's name of cultural appropriation, which has been named after a late civil rights leader and shuttered hospital for Black St. Louis residents, St. Louis Public Radio reported Oct. 21.

Seven things to know:

  1. Construction on a three-bed hospital has finished, but some community members are outraged by the name. The hospital is named after the 728-bed Homer G. Phillips Hospital that served Black community members for more than 40 years; it closed in 1979.

  2. Homer G. Phillips, a lawyer, worked in St. Louis to defeat housing segregation in 1916. Mr. Phillips helped other Black leaders secure public funds to create the hospital, which was developed to serve Black Missourians. Mr. Phillips was shot and killed in 1931. The hospital adopted his name in 1937.

  3. Zenobia Thompson, a former nurse at the Homer G. Phillips Hospital, delivered a letter to the new hospital's developer. The letter requested Paul McKee attend a City Hall meeting to address the community's concerns about the new name.

    "We have to fight to preserve the legacy of Homer G. Phillips: the man and the hospital,” Ms. Thompson told St. Louis Public Radio.

  4. Homer G. Phillips Hospital was the only public hospital for Black Americans in St. Louis until 1955. In 1961, the hospital trained the largest number of Black physicians and nurses in the world, according to the report.

  5. Julia Allen, who worked at the hospital as a radiology clerk, told the publication that using the late civil rights leader's name for the hospital's name is cultural appropriation. 

    "That’s no way to honor anybody," Ms. Allen told St. Louis Public Radio. "You cannot disrespect the name of Homer G. Phillips and think that north St. Louis is going to be happy."

  6. Darryl Piggee, who is on the new hospital's board, told St. Louis Public Radio the name was his idea and it received positive feedback from community members. Mr. Piggee said those who disagree with the name are ignoring the area's dire need for a hospital, according to the report.

  7. The three-bed hospital expects to expand it in one year, according to the report.

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