BLACK HISTORY MONTH — Longtime city employee shares love for Port Arthur, excitement for future

Published 12:42 am Saturday, February 11, 2023

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When Albert Thigpen first began working for the City of Port Arthur in 1985, there were only a small number of Black employees. 

“I can honestly remember when I came to City Hall, they were still counting,” he said. 

But over the years he watched as those structural barriers were faced and moved forward. 

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“Overtime we’ve seen where those roadblocks have, if not been removed, were at least pushed back,” Thigpen said. “It allows upward mobility and people to take charge in some of the areas and show, regardless of race, they are capable of doing the things that need to be done to advance, run the city, and do what we would like to see in the city.” 

Thigpen, 62, has spent decades living in the city in which he grew up. His father worked and ultimately retired from the city’s public works department, while his mother was a homemaker. 

He grew up as an only child, attending several schools within the city before graduating from Lincoln High School in 1978.

His wife, Deidre Delcambre Thigpen, was a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School. But it would be years before they met. 

Thigpen attended Georgia Tech, where he obtained a degree in Industrial Management with a focus on Industrial Engineering. 

“I’ve always been interested in science,” he said. “My wife tells me I’m still a nerd. It was always interesting to me to study how things work and how science impacts all of the things that you want to do during the day.”

As a child, he read a lot of science fiction books. Now, it’s what he gravitates to on television. 

“I love watching science fiction — the world as it could be,” he said. 

While attending Texas Southern University to obtain his doctorate, he read a newspaper article on a woman in Port Arthur who worked for the Rape and Suicide Crisis Center. His friend, who was on the board, introduced them. 

And in 1999, they were married. 

When he began working for the city, he started in grant writing. Ultimately he would oversee human resources, civil service, and parks and recreation before retiring after 30 years. However, not long ago, the city manager asked him to act as a consultant on a project. Shortly after that, he was offered his current position as an assistant city manager. 

In addition, he is an adjunct instructor at Lamar State College Port Arthur, for which he teaches economics, business principals, federal and state government and personal finance. He also teaches graduate courses online at Southern New Hampshire University. 


Toward the end of 2022, Thigpen joined several other community members to begin planning for the city’s 123rd year. 

He is joined on the steering committee by Pat Avery, Sam Monroe and Verna Rutherford. 

“Port Arthur is a unique community,” he said. “We feel that we have a sense of pride and a sense of accomplishment that should be celebrated. That we have survived and evolved from our founding. 

“In that time we’ve had a major impact on industry globally. We’ve had a major impact on athletics. We’ve had a major impact on entertainment — all from Port Arthur residents that have gone on to do wonderful things.”

And it’s wonderful things that he envisions for the city itself.

“We want Port Arthur to continue to grow as a community,” he said. “We believe that Port Arthur has a lot to offer — especially for millennials and post-millennials, to have them settle here. The manager has set a task of strengthening the economic base. We have a strong economic base with the industry that’s around us, but we’re also wanting to diversify that economic base by attracting businesses, attracting homeowners, just making Port Arthur the city that it can be.”