On the heels of Juneteenth, the T. Thomas Fortune Cultural Center announces its partnership with Monmouth Medical Center, a part of RWJ Barnabas Health, as the exclusive sponsor of the Parker Family Legacy Room – a permanent exhibit of the history of the family of prominent Red Bank black doctors, who served their community for over 80 years.
The space upstairs at the National Historic Landmark will be transformed into a showcase specific to the history of these medical professionals and educators. Visual art motifs, mixed-media, artifacts, and testimonials will enhance the richness of their legacy.
The room will be formally dedicated as the Parker Family Legacy Room, which will serve as a multi-functional space for lectures, book signings, community forums and other presentations. In addition, there will be a multi-media historical retrospective exhibit of the Drs. Parker created exclusively for Monmouth Medical Center, at its Long Branch campus.
In 1955, Dr. James W. Parker Jr. became the first black physician on staff at Monmouth Medical. His father, Dr. James W. Parker Sr., was not allowed access to area hospitals for his patients.
“The T. Thomas Fortune Culture Center has a fantastic track-record of providing research and education on the historical contributions of black Americans,” said Monmouth Medical Center’s CEO, Eric Carney. “I am so honored to partner with the Cultural Center to bring the Parker Family Legacy Room to life. This exhibit will tell the story of the Parker family and how they shaped the landscape of medicine in Monmouth County and the State of New Jersey.
“While outstanding clinical care is essential, cultural education and awareness is foundational to being able to deliver on this promise to our community. Quite simply, the more we understand the lived experience of our community, the more effective we will be at promoting and supporting health. This exhibit is only the beginning of our partnership. My hope is that our participation contributes to the important conversations we are having about race and equitable access to health care,” continued Carney.
On a daily basis people ride up and down Drs. James Parker Boulevard, many of whom are residents, and they do not know the rich lineage of the Drs. Parker family. An extension of the doctors is the Parker Family Health Center, which offers quality healthcare to Monmouth County residents who do not have healthcare insurance. Although the images of the two doctors, father, and son, are prominently displayed in the waiting area, the history of the Healthcare Center supersedes its namesakes.
“This is a defining moment in this country’s history,” said Gilda Rogers, Co-Chair of the Fortune Foundation. “This partnership is important because it salutes the legacy of the Drs. Parker family and recognizes the work that must be done to close the equity gap in healthcare for black Americans.”
Carney said, “Through this partnership, together, we are aligned to achieve better health, wellness and equitable access to care through openness, understanding and education.”
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