A special ceremony was held today to recognize Dr. Ernest W. Kinchen Jr., a longtime Acadiana physician who was a pioneer in the medical field.
During the event, held at the Heymann Park Recreation Center, a resolution adopted by the Louisiana Legislature recognizing Kinchen and his many accomplishments was presented to the physician.
A Lafayette native, Kinchen earned a Doctor of Medicine with honors in Neuropsychiatry, Ophthalmology, and Pediatrics from Howard University in 1965 and an internship and residency in the Tulane and Charity Hospital System in New Orleans while serving as a captain in the United States Army Reserves.
In addition to being a physician who cared for Acadiana residents for more than 50 years, Kinchen also was a trailbalzer. He was the first African-American resident in the Tulane and Charity Hospital System, the first Dillard University Rhodes Scholar candidate, the first African-American doctor with privileges at Lafayette General Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes, the first African-American to serve on the board of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, and also the founder of Pride Plaza, one of the first multi-specialty medical facilities on the north side of Lafayette.
Kinchen conceived and initiated the Yearly Living Legend Program to provide scholarships and to inspire African-American youth to reach their greatest possible potential.
Kinchen says his legendary accomplishment was organizing and being the leader of the first college protest march against segregation, discrimination, injustice, and degradation in the deep South which captured the eyes of the nation and had the coverage of every major news network in the United States.
He has been recognized as a "living legend who is a pioneer, an outstanding servant, distinguished citizen, outstanding physician, humanitarian, trailblazer, and a great man of God with deep faith" by Dr. David Allie, one of the founders of the Louisiana CLI and Limb Salvage Club.
According to the resolution presented to him today, Kinchen himself says that "none of this would have been possible had my mother not prayed for a servant. Her prayers has given me the fortitude to continue to march toward justice, the breaking down of barriers, and the saving of lives as well as livelihoods, because God lives in my heart and inspires me through many trials, a servant lives in my heart."
Kinchen is married to the former Miss Dillard University and Summa Cum Laude graduate Barbara Antoine and they have three children, Ernest, Kraig, and Chrys.