Humboldt memorializes Professor Stigall

UNVEILED – The portrait of Tom Stigall is unveiled during a dedication ceremony held last Saturday at Stigall Primary School. Superintendent Dr. Versie Hamlett (left) and Stigall Primary principal, Richard Willis, had the honor of removing the cloth, unveiling Stigall’s picture.

Making history

History was made in Humboldt last Saturday when August 5 was proclaimed as Thomas Marion Stigall Day. A dedication ceremony was held at Stigall Primary School that included the unveiling of a portrait of the famed Humboldt educator.

Humboldt alderman and school board member, Leon McNeal, spearheaded the dedication ceremony with assistance from Humboldt superintendent of schools, Dr. Versie Hamlett, and Tom & O.E. Stigall Ethnic Library and History Museum board members, Johnny Cyrus and Jerry Marable.

The school library was packed with dozens of former Stigallites, elected officials (both aldermen and school board), school representatives, Humboldt citizens and Stigall supporters attending the dedication ceremony.

McNeal opened the ceremony, saying this dedication is long overdue.

Other participating in the program included Rev. William Williamson, Rev. Eddie Burnett, Marquita Patterson, Donald Baskerville (accompanied by Stephen Watson on keyboard), Donna Seymore, Lillie V. Seward, Barbara Moody-Hamilton and Bertha Perry. Dr. Hamlett, Cyrus and Marable each spoke during the celebration.

Toward the end of the program, Dr. Hamlett read a proclamation, prepared and signed by Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes, who was unable to attend. The document proclaimed that August 5 would now be known as Thomas Marion Stigall Day in Humboldt. This brought a huge round of applause from the crowd.

The program concluded with the unveiling of Stigall’s portrait in the school lobby. Stigall Primary School principal, Richard Willis, and Dr. Hamlett had the honor of removing the cover from the portrait as McNeal, Cyrus, Marable and Burnett joined unveiling panel at the front of the school foyer.

Afterwards, refreshments were enjoyed in the school cafeteria.

Tom Stigall, and his wife O.E., were prominent citizens in the African-American community in Humboldt and were instrumental in the education of Humboldt students in the early 1900s.

Stigall was born in Pinson, Tenn., attended Central Tennessee College in Nashville, Tenn. and earned his degree from Lane College in Jackson, Tenn. He later became principal of Humboldt Colored School.

He was key in getting the school accredited, first a two-year high school, then a four-year school. Unfortunately, he never saw the school receive four-year accreditation. He passed away in the classroom in 1935.

In 1937 when the school was accredited, the name was officially changed to Stigall High in his honor by the city, county and state boards of education.

Now, with Thomas Marion Stigall Day proclaimed, the name Stigall will further be entrenched in Humboldt history.

MCNEAL – Leon McNeal spearheaded the dedication ceremony honoring the late Tom Stigall. McNeal is an alderman, school board member and a member of the Stigall Museum board.

HONORING STIGALL – A dedication ceremony was held last Saturday honoring the late Tom Stigall, namesake of Stigall Primary School and other Stigall schools in Humboldt over the years. Some of those who assisted in planning the event are (from left) Johnny Cyrus, Leon McNeal, Jerry Marable, Dr. Versie Hamlett, Richard Willis and Rev. Eddie Burnett. The portrait of Stigall is prominently located in the school foyer.

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