It is fitting that a Jersey City charter school dedicated to academic excellence and the development of ethical values should honor the life of Dr. Lena Edwards. In adopting her name, the school recognizes her academic accomplishments, her compassionate service to the people of Jersey City, her dedication and hard work, and her commitment to family, community, and nation.
Dr. Lena Edwards was the valedictorian of the 1917 class at Dunbar High School, Washington, D.C. and completed her Bachelor's Degree in three years at Howard University. In 1924, she graduated from the Howard University College of Medicine. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Jersey City with her husband and classmate, Dr. Keith Madison. She opened an Obstetrical-Gynecological practice in the Bergen-Lafayette section of Jersey City and, in 1945, while practicing at the Jersey City Medical Center, became one of the first African-American National Board certified female Ob-Gyn's in the US. During 30 years of service to the city's working class and poor, she delivered more than 5000 babies while raising six children of her own. Dr. Edwards was a staunch advocate on issues affecting women's health, and a proponent of natural child birth and quality health care for all regardless of income.
In 1954, she resumed her academic career, returning to Washington to teach Obstetrics at Howard University College of Medicine. In 1960, at age 60, Dr. Edwards, inspired by her religious faith, left her teaching position to minister to the needs of migrant workers in Texas, where she founded a modern maternity hospital. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson recognized her humanitarian work by awarding Dr. Edwards the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.
In her later years, she returned to medical practice in Jersey City, working with her daughter, Dr. Marie Metoyer. Dr. Edwards received an honorary degree from St. Peter's College in 1966 and taught at the College's Institute of Industrial Relations until her retirement in 1972.
Clearly, Dr. Lena Edwards sets an example of dedication, hard work, and compassion to which all members of our school community should aspire.