Our Notables display highlights just a fraction of Hannibal's outstanding African American citizens who impacted the community and played a key role in making Hannibal a better place to live and raise a family. These are ordinary folks who did extraordinary things.
Here are some of the stories of former slaves and children of slaves who gained national recognition, such as George Coleman Poage, our first Black to medal in the U.S. Olympics; Lena Mason, accomplished poet and evangelist; Arizona Cleaver Stemmons, Founder of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.; and Father Augustine Tolton, the first African American priest--to name a few.
There are also photos of generations of Hannibal's black children who attended segregated Douglass School and received the skills to make their way in a white-run world that refused to invest in their future and had such low expectations of them. The medals, honors, and clippings showing their achievements line the walls and fill up the display cases. Many students and descendants of students who attended Douglass School became dedicated teachers, doctors, dentists, and lawyers; talented musicians and athletes; successful business professionals; and committed public servants-such as Joe Miller, who would serve as a member of the Hannibal Board of Education; Hiawatha Crow, a member of Hannibal's City Council; George Hannibal Wright, editor and publisher of Hannibal's longest-running Negro newspaper; and Joseph Pelham, first Negro Hannibal Public Schools Administrator.
WE HOPE OTHERS WILL BE INSPIRED BY THEIR LEADERSHIP, ACHIEVEMENTS, AND DEDICATION TO THE INDEPENDENCE AND EQUALITY OF ALL.
The First Black American to Medal in the Olympics