ST. PETERSBURG — The Gibbs Class of 1968 is no ordinary group of high school seniors. In fact, seniors who graduated high school that year found themselves caught up in one of the most volatile periods in modern American history.
The seniors who gathered together last Saturday night for the 48th annual Christmas Holiday Extravaganza at the Coliseum are a testament to the ties that bind and preserve relationships.
In the year 1968, extremes in pushing the boundaries of love and hate were at the forefront. Despite the stresses and strains of that diabolical year, which saw both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy assassinated, the Gibbs Class of 1968 sided on the boundary of love and connectedness.
More African-American students were entering not only traditional black universities, but also integrating predominantly white colleges in the South and across the nation. For this reason, the Gibbs High School Class of ‘68 felt a needed urgency to stay connected—connected to classmates and family, connected to school leaders and teachers who lived in their communities and connected to each other.
From the first dance held at Class President Sylvia Wells Moore’s parent’s home, no one had any idea that in 25 years they would be dancing at the Coliseum with a thousand of their closest friends.
With generations of partygoers lining the dance floor, proceeds from ticket sales are turned right back around and given to community. They donate to worthy causes and organizations such as the Sickle Cell Disease Association, and when a classmate is sick or passes away, they make sure their families are not forgotten.
However, the bulk of the proceeds go to their annual scholarship awards program held at the Enoch Davis Center. Any deserving senior who has maintained a 2.5 grade point average and has an accredited letter of acceptance to a four-year college or technical school is eligible.
As more than 1,000 people gathered together to celebrate life, one could not help but wonder about the many stories of sacrifice, struggle, disillusionment and determination that could be gathered from such an event, for it is that common narrative in its various iterations that binds the Gibbs Class of ‘68.