Reflecting on St. Jude and civil rights this MLK Jr. Day

National

St. Jude was one of the first hospitals in the south to hire black doctors, nurses and researchers

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — KOIN 6 News is a proud community partner with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which has a special connection to Martin Luther King Junior.

After the reverend was shot, he was taken to a hospital which is now part of the St. Jude campus in Memphis where he later died. The civil rights movement was an important one to St. Jude, it being the first fully integrated hospital in the south.

The research hospital played a key role in the integration of hotels in Memphis in the 60s, after a downtown hotel that housed patients said it would not allow black patients to stay there.

Deeanna Janku with the Portland office for St. Jude tells us the hospital’s director issued an ultimatum.

“He said either you’ll take all of our patients or you’ll get none of them,” said Janku. “And the hotel relented and said fine, we’ll allow your African American patients but they need to eat in their room and not the dining room and Dr. Pinkel said, ‘it’s not good enough.'”

St. Jude was also one of the first hospitals in the south to hire black doctors, nurses and researchers.

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