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Street renamed to honor Rev. J.T. Freeman

Public works superintendent Willie Reid unveils the sign designating J.T. Freeman Street in Humboldt. A crowd came out last Saturday morning for the dedication and renaming.

Shirley Poston and daughter Stella Humphreys moved the entire crowd with their rendition of “Lay down My Burdens.”

A large crowd filled the sidewalk in front of the Stigall Museum where the street name now honors the late J.T. Freeman. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017 was a historic day in Humboldt, Tenn. A large crowd gathered in front of the Tom and O.E. Stigall Museum for the unveiling of a new street name.

Vine Street from 9th Avenue to 3rd Avenue has been renamed to Reverend J.T. Freeman Street.

Reverend James Taft Freeman was a well-known pastor, missionary and civil rights activist. His legacy is alive not only in Humboldt, but throughout the world. Several people spoke at the occasion. Reverend William Johnson referenced Nehemiah 6:3 and said that passage describes Rev. Freeman and his work. “Like Nehemiah, Rev. Freeman had many problems but knew he was doing a good work,” said Rev. Johnson.

Donna Seymour remembered Rev. Freeman as a man of strength and integrity. “We are witnessing a historical thing,” she added.

Essie Brooks brought the occasion remarks. She said that she refers to Rev. Freeman as “Champion.” He was the founder of the Tom and O.E. Stigall Museum. Education was very important to him, she said. In addition to being a minister and missionary, he was a very important civil rights activist. In 1962 -1963 he organized the Humboldt and Gibson County NAACP.

Mayor Marvin Sikes brought the City of Humboldt proclamation and read it to the group. He remarked that when the idea of renaming the street was brought to him by Alderman Leon McNeal, his immediate response was “Let’s do it!”

The mayor added that he had the opportunity to meet Rev. Freeman when the museum was being built. “He was an energetic, unselfish man,” he added.

Shirley Poston and daughter Stella Humphreys moved the entire crowd with their rendition of “Lay down My Burdens.” The group gathered for the day were singing along and clapping.

Freeman’s life was commented on by Rev. Eddie Burnett. He said that first of all Rev. Freeman was a good example of a man. He was a teacher and pastor. He was a missionary. He was a civil rights advocate. Rev. Burnett went on to add, “He was a man of action, not just talk. His mission was wrapped up in The Great Commission found in Matthew.” Rev. Burnett remarked that in spite of every excuse we have the Great Commission still stands.

One day, while in the home of Rev. Freeman, which was located in Fort Hill, Rev. Burnett was assisting him by looking through some of his papers for one thing in particular.

As luck would have it, he never did find what he was looking for. He did, however, notice and remark on the numerous certificates, awards and diplomas. Rev. Freeman said to him that such means nothing to a lost, dying man and that such is not granted to enhance the recipient.

After the unveiling of the new street sign the museum board had a brunch for those in attendance.


  1. Samuel Deche Charo on July 14, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Indeed Rev. J. T. Freeman was a great man. He was a blessings to us as a missionary to Kenya. May God rest his soul in eternal peace.

    • Phyllis Freeman Pinckney on September 6, 2021 at 4:22 pm

      One day I typed in my uncle’s name (Rev. J.T Freeman) and I learned that a street had been named by him. My Uncle Taft we called him was strict what I knew of him visiting my family in St Louis. Uncle Taft was my father’s oldest brother; there was three boys and one sister.

      I plan to visit the museum and the street named after him soon.

      Thanks to everyone

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