Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew, MD forum, lecture and conference

The Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew, MD Forum, Lecture and Conference on Health Inequities and Disparities is an annual discussion of health disparities and other factors that impact population health. It commemorates the life of a ground-breaking central Illinois physician.

In 2023 the event was expanded to include a conference for health care providers focused on the social, educational, political, and economic determinants of health and thriving. The following year the conference was renamed the Kenniebrew-McNeese Health Equity Conference, to honor the forum's founder, SIU physician and trailblazer Dr. Wesley McNeese.  

A native of Warrior’s Point, Alabama, Dr. Alonzo Homer Kenniebrew was the first African-American physician in the United States to build and operate a surgical hospital, the New Home Sanitarium in Jacksonville, Illinois, established in 1909. 

At its peak in the 1920s, New Home had 67 rooms, three laboratories, three surgeons and eight associated physicians. It served patients from 20 states and Canada.

Kenniebrew founded the hospital because he could not obtain medical privileges at area hospitals. 

Photo of the 2023 Kennibrew three day event

The son of a former slave, Kenniebrew was educated at Tuskegee University and was a friend, colleague and personal physician to Booker T. Washington. After relocating to Illinois, he persevered despite repeated roadblocks from the Jim-Crow world of the early 20th century. His annual lecture sheds light on the history of health disparities, suggesting solutions to the resistant problems that negatively affect the lives of so many in the United States. HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Memorial Health System and the SIU Foundation help support the cost of the annual presentation. 

Click here to view all of the photos from the 2024 event.