Rev. Jesse Jackson spotlights restoration of local black hospital

Civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson addressed hundreds April 3 during an event designed to raise awareness about the importance of health care in the black community.  About 20 LeMoyne-Owen College students accompanied LOC President Andrea Lewis Miller to the event, held at Mount Olive CMC Church.

Other guests included Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings; former Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Jr. and Memphis City Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen.

Another goal of the event was to encourage the black community to help fund the restoration of Collins Chapel Hospital, located at 409 Ayers St.  Local leaders expressed the need to renovate and reopen the 28-bed facility as a rehabilitation center.

Collins Chapel, the Memphis hospital that served black patients during segregation, faced decline after desegregation of other major hospitals in Memphis led to its closure in 1980.

“I was born in Collins Chapel Hospital,” President Miller told participants after being encouraged to address the crowd.

Several pledges were made during the evening ranging from $100 to $30,000.

The event, which took place on the 49th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, led Rev. Jackson to encourage the congregation to follow in the path set by Dr. King.

“To admire him is to read great things about him. To follow him is to march, take risks, lose lives to save lives,” Jackson said.

The event concluded with the congregation singing, “We Shall Overcome.”