- Robinson Elementary
Kirkwood School District Foundation’s KTOC Scholarship for BIPOC Students Receives $5,000 Donation in Honor of Reverend William Edward Hall
Kirkwood students will benefit from a $5,000 donation by Henry Edward Hall in honor of his father, Rev. William Edward Hall. Rev. Hall was a product of Kirkwood’s Booker T. Washington School and became principal of the school and an active leader in the local civil rights movement.
The Booker T. Washington School opened in 1870 on Adams near Geyer Rd. to serve the community’s African-American children. Rev. Hall, who was born in Kirkwood in 1912, attended Booker T. Washington School for all of his local public education. He then pursued higher education graduating from Lincoln University in Jefferson City with a Bachelor’s in Education, from New York University with a Master’s in Vocational Guidance & Counseling and extending his studies to St. Louis’ Stowe Teachers College and the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.
“Everything began for Rev. Hall at that simple clapboard structure, Booker T. Washington School, nestled at the intersection of Adams and Geyer Roads in Kirkwood,” said Henry Hall. “Booker T, as the school was commonly referred to in Kirkwood’s insular Black community, was the site of many student and family gatherings as an important public meeting place for Kirkwood’s tight-knit Black community.”
In 1943, Rev. Hall was ordained and began serving as US Army Chaplain in the Pacific. He served for 30 years as a chaplain at the Jefferson Barracks Veterans Administration Medical Complex in south St. Louis County. In Kirkwood, he served as principal of the Booker T. Washington school twice, once from 1940-1942 and again from 1946-1948. In June 1950, the school closed and the students were transferred to the J. Milton Turner School in Meacham Park.
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregated schools unconstitutional and the process of integration began in Kirkwood. Students from the J. Milton Turner School transferred to Nipher and, in the fall of1955, the community’s African American students began attending high school in their own district for the first time.
Rev. Hall was an active civil rights organizer and leader in the region and advocated changes that would improve the quality of life in the communities of his congregants. He became Director of the Black Youth Employment Service Project in Kirkwood; President of the St. Louis County Community Improvement Association; President of the Kirkwood Civic Club; City Commissioner - Kirkwood Land Clearance and Housing Authority; a founding member of the St. Louis County Human Relations Council and an organizer for the local NAACP.
“No doubt he and those who attended ‘Booker T’ were proud of what they accomplished as students in a segregated system,” said Henry Hall. “But on occasion my father would assert an important life lesson he wanted his children to accept, ‘...learn to recognize the ‘sweep of progress’. For it can’t be paused and it cannot be denied’. We must welcome progress or innovation in order to become more complete citizens in fulfilling the promise that is the United States of America.”
Reverend William Edward Hall died in March 1997. Henry Hall’s donation in his honor will support the Kirkwood Teachers of Color Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a Kirkwood High School senior who identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a student of color (BIPOC). The scholarship was founded by the Kirkwood Teachers of Color (KTOC), a group in the Kirkwood School District that strives to connect teachers of color to each other, their administrators, colleagues, and other sources of support and growth.
The Kirkwood School District Foundation (KSDF) Named Awards program is one of many ways KSDF works to enrich the lives of Kirkwood students. Established in 1989, the foundation is a group of parents, alumni, and friends working to build a stronger community by raising private funds to enrich the educational experiences for all students in the Kirkwood School District.
Pictured from left: Stephanie Collet, Executive Director of the Kirkwood School District Foundation; Roberta McWoods, Master Mentor for Kirkwood Teachers of Color; Mildred Jones, William Halls’ sister-in-law; Jeremy Mapp, Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Kirkwood School District, who is displaying a 1943 picture of Rev. Hall; and Mary Loida, president of the Kirkwood School District Foundation. The check presentation was held at Kirkwood Park near the location of the former Booker T. Washington School.
Rev. Hall in 1944