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St. jude patient Eri'Elle smiling with her hands under her chin

St. Jude patient Eri'Elle


Celebrating Black History Month at St. Jude

Each Black History Month, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital takes time to recognize the life-changing contributions of our Black heroes and how their dedication and stories have helped shape St. Jude.

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Our Black History Month heroes:
A legacy of hope

Since our opening in 1962, Black excellence has helped to propel the St. Jude mission forward. In 2024, we focus on stories that support the national theme for Black History Month — "African Americans and the Arts."


Architect of hope

Paul Williams, a renowned architect and friend of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, donated the design of the original hospital when it was constructed in 1962.


Javon's culinary arts series

As a child, Javon underwent treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) three times. Each time, St. Jude was by his side. Now a college graduate, he's embarked on a career of helping to plan events for St. Jude and enjoys cooking his favorite meals as a pastime.

St. Jude patient stands behind a counter in a kitchen with plates of food and ingredients covering the counter.

St. Jude survivor Javon while filming his cooking series.

St. Jude survivor Nick singing.

St. Jude survivor Nick


From budding basketball star to rapper

St. Jude survivor Nick was a standout basketball player when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer. His mother encouraged to him to write about his experience, which soon turned into lyrics for rap songs.


From diagnosis to design

Kris Keys was treated at St. Jude for a genetic blood disorder when she was a child. Today she's a modern fashion designer who connects her experience to art.

Artist and St. Jude supporter Derek Fordjour poses in front of one of his paintings.

Artist and St. Jude supporter Derek Fordjour poses in front of one of his paintings.


Dedicating his art to helping kids

Artist Derek Fordjour's recent painting, Rhythm & Blues, sold for $410,000 at an auction. He gave it all to St. Jude.


Why do we celebrate
Black History Month at St. Jude?

Image of the St. Jude campus

When he was a struggling entertainer, Danny Thomas prayed to St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes: "Help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine." When Danny became successful, he made good on his promise and founded St. Jude.

St. Jude was founded on the principles of equity and inclusion. When it opened in Memphis, Tenn., in 1962, St. Jude was the first fully integrated children’s hospital in the Southern United States. During a time of widespread segregation, St. Jude hired Black doctors, researchers and nurses, while providing care services to children, regardless of race. 

St. Jude patient Kaleb and his father sit at a table in a colorful room and make an art project.

St. Jude patient Kaleb and his father

St. Jude was also involved in the integration of Memphis hotels during the Civil Rights Movement, calling for Black patients and their families to be allowed to stay in the same facilities as white patients and families. The St. Jude medical director during that time, Dr. Donald Pinkel, held firm to the institution’s demands until the hotels eventually agreed.


Learn more about our legacy

How are Black history and culture celebrated at St. Jude all year long?

African American model in a St. Jude t-shirt.

St. Jude Gift Shop

Show your love of St. Jude with our Black history collection.

Shop the Collection
St. Jude patient Ay'den gazes at his mother, who smiles at him.

St. Jude Sunday of Hope

Unite as one church family to help cure life-threatening childhood diseases — like sickle cell.

Get Involved With Sunday of Hope
St. Jude patient Za'Mya is held by her mother

St. Jude Spirit of the Dream

This annual event is a celebration of the achievements of African Americans in creating the St. Jude legacy. 

Learn More About St. Jude Spirit of the Dream

Our legacy of impact:
Why donate to St. Jude?

For more than 60 years, St. Jude has cared for some of the world’s sickest children regardless of their race, ethnicity, beliefs or ability to pay. Our patients receive the customized care they need to treat childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases, no matter what barriers they may face.

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St. Jude is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses — like sickle cell.

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Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food — so they can focus on helping their child live.

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When St. Jude opened in 1962, childhood cancer was considered incurable. Since then, St. Jude has helped push the overall survival rate from 20% to more than 80%. St. Jude won't stop until no child dies from cancer.

St. Jude patient Kamryn and his mom standing up and flexing muscles while smiling.

St. Jude patient Kamryn and his mom


Become part of our legacy

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