The cover of Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream

Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream

Candace O’Connor ’70

Published by University of Missouri Press, O’Connor’s nonfiction work is a history of Homer G. Phillips Hospital, a leading Black institution that opened in St. Louis in 1937. O’Connor chronicles the hospital’s decades of prosperity—during which it treated generations of patients, trained nursing students, and attracted top medical residents and physicians from around the country. (As the author notes, by the 1950s, three-quarters of the African-American babies born in St. Louis were delivered there.) But societal changes and financial constraints eventually led the hospital to close in 1979; it sat vacant for years until it was renovated into a senior residence. “Homer G. Phillips Hospital was born at a time of virulent prejudice,” O’Connor writes in her introduction, “but the Black community in St. Louis was growing and finding its voice.” A journalist and St. Louis resident who has penned several previous books on her city’s history, O’Connor also wrote and co-produced the PBS documentary “Oh Freedom After While: The Missouri Sharecropper Protest of 1939.”

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