Candace O'Connor - Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream

Wednesday, January 26, 6pm CT
Livestreaming to Left Bank Books' Facebook Live Page or YouTube Page
Rectangular image with headshot of author Candace O'Connor on the left half and a picture of the cover of the book "Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream" on the rightLeft Bank Books presents St. Louis author
Candace O'Connor: Now Online
Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream: The History of Homer G. Phillips Hospital
Wednesday, January 26th at 6pm Central.
O'Connor with be in conversation with
Dr. Will Ross & Dr. Eva Frazer.
Livestreaming online on Left Bank Books' Facebook Live Page or YouTube Page.

Candace will come in to the store following the arrival of the books to sign and personalize copies that are available for order now through Left Bank Books. Please leave any personalization notes in your order comments.


Nothing about Homer G. Phillips Hospital came easily. Built to serve St. Louis's rapidly expanding African-American population, the grand new hospital opened its doors in 1937, toward the end of the Great Depression. "Homer G.," as many called it, joined a burgeoning group of black hospitals amid a national period of institutional segregation and strong racial prejudice nationwide.

When the beautiful, up-to-date hospital opened, it attracted more black residents than any other such program in the United States. Patients also flocked to the hospital, as did nursing students who found there excellent training, ready employment, and a boost into the middle class. For decades, the hospital thrived; by the 1950s, three-quarters of African-American babies in St. Louis were born at Homer G.

But the 1960s and 1970s brought less need for all-black hospitals, as faculty, residents, and patients were increasingly welcome in the many newly integrated institutions. Ever-tightening city budgets meant less money for the hospital, and in 1979, despite protests from the African-American community, HGPH closed. Years later, the venerated, long-vacant building came to life again as the Homer G. Phillips Senior Living Community.

Candace O'Connor draws upon contemporary newspaper articles, institutional records, and dozens of interviews with former staff members to create the first, full history of the Homer G. Phillips Hospital. She also brings new facts and insights into the life and mysterious murder (still an unsolved case) of the hospital's namesake, a pioneering Black attorney and civil rights activist who led the effort to build the sorely needed medical facility in the Ville neighborhood.


Candace O'Connor is a freelance journalist and the author of 14 books, including histories of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and the Central West End, as well as A Song of Faith and Hope: The Life of Frankie Muse Freeman. She also wrote and co-produced a PBS documentary, Oh Freedom After While: The Missouri Sharecropper Protest of 1939, which won a regional Emmy award. She lives in St. Louis with her husband.


All you need to do to participate is log in to your personal Facebook account, go to Left Bank Books' Facebook Live Page, and wait for the livestream to begin on the page (you may need to refresh the page periodically until the stream begins). You may also watch the simulcast on Left Bank's YouTube channel.

Staff Pick Badge
Climbing the Ladder, Chasing the Dream: The History of Homer G. Phillips Hospital Cover Image
ISBN: 9780826222473
Availability: On Our Shelves (Note - We update this inventory once per day.)
Published: University of Missouri - February 21st, 2022

Renaissance: A History of the Central West End Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681061245
Availability: On Our Shelves (Note - We update this inventory once per day.)
Published: Reedy Press - July 23rd, 2017