St. Louis leaders vow to continue opposing naming new hospital after Homer G. Phillips
St. Louis nurses, activists and religious leaders are determined to keep fighting developer Paul McKee’s use of Homer G. Phillps’ name for a three-bed north St. Louis health center.
Community leaders gathered at Beloved Community United Methodist Church on Saturday to object to McKee’s efforts. Homer G. Phillips Nurses' Alumni Inc. filed a lawsuit against the developer last year arguing he has no right to use Phillip’s name and claiming the center infringes on a trademark filed by the alumni group.
“We feel that it is disrespectful to the name of Homer G. Phillips and the institution and legacy of Homer G. Phillips, said Zenobia Thompson, co-chair of the Change The Name Coalition and the former head nurse of the hospital.
Phillips was a Black lawyer who fought for a well-funded Black hospital in north St. Louis as City Hospital No. 2 in the former Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, wasn’t meeting the needs of the Black residents. Phillips was shot and killed in 1931, but the city opened the 728-bed Homer G. Phillips Hospital six years later.
The internationally renowned hospital named for him trained the largest number of Black nurses and doctors in the country when many schools and hospitals did not accept Black applicants. The hospital was desegregated in 1955 and closed in 1979. McKee’s use of Phillips’ name for the new clinic is an affront to his legacy, said Yvonne Jones, president of the Homer G. Phillips Nurses' Alumni Inc.
“We are not against the three-bed hospital that is located or will be located on Jefferson [Avenue] and Cass [Avenue]; all we're asking is that he remove the name,” Jones said. “It was located in The Ville and so we want Homer G. Phillips’ name and legacy to remain in The Ville.”
McKee could not be reached for comment.
Mayor Tisharua Jones, State Rep. Kimberly-Ann Collins and other elected officials also have voiced disapproval of the new facility’s name. The St. Louis Board of Aldermen passed a resolution in 2021 opposing it.
“[McKee] doesn't have to steal the legacy of Black people in order to make profit, especially when the name Homer G. Phillips has been trademarked by the nurses' alumni, so it is not too late,” said Walle Amusa, a member of the Change the Name Coalition.