The achievements and accomplishments of the African-American community in regards to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital were celebrated at the inaugural St. Jude Spirit of the Dream event on February 11 in Memphis.
Honored at the event were the late Paul Williams, the architect of St. Jude, and Dr. Rudolph Jackson, the first African-American doctor at St. Jude. Williams, a friend of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, designed the hospital’s original star-shaped building. He donated his plans for the building, which would become the first fully integrated children’s hospital in the South.
Jackson worked at the hospital from 1968 to1972, and played a key role in the hospital’s sickle cell program.
The event, which was in partnership with the National Pan-Hellenic Council Memphis Metropolitan Area, raised more than $17,000 for St. Jude. It featured a live performance from Will Graves & Soul and art works by Danny Broadway and Brandon Tolson.
In attendance was Louis Morton, a NAACP Image Award recipient, and former journalist for the New York Times. Morton began supporting St. Jude before the hospital was opened in 1962 because of Thomas’ insistence that all children would be treated at St. Jude regardless of race, religion or their family’s financial status. Morton still donates to St. Jude today.
Also in attendance were musician David Porter, entrepreneur Moziah Bridges of Mo’s Bows, former Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, and Shelby County Commissioner Willie Brooks.
Sponsors for the St. Jude Spirit of the Dream included: FedEx, Republic Services, National Pan-Hellenic Council Memphis Metropolitan Area, Brad and Felicia Robinson, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Donelson’s Catering, Self Tucker Architects, Law Office of Vanecia Belser Kimbrow, Janice Gill Gray and Arther Wells-Lewis of State Farm, L3 Television/Media, A.S. Barboro, Silver Oak Wines and Star Disbributors, and Tri-State Defender.