Paul Mohr, Sr.: Herald academic excellence out of Gibbs High & Gibbs Jr. College

Paul Mohr, Sr.

By Sevell Brown, III, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — Dr. Paul Mohr, Sr. was the sports reporter for Gibbs High School’s newspaper and yearbook during the period when the Gibbs Gladiators won the 1947 football championship. Under segregation, Mohr’s writings of the Gladiators’ victories would be published in the St. Petersburg Times’ and Evening Independent’s black news page.

Mohr worked with Eva Jordan, an African-America reporter writing for the Evening Independent’s one page that featured black news.  That’s how local African Americans would learn of the athletic excellence at Gibbs.  

Mohr’s articles would detail the reputation of the Gladiators, as white people would come from all over Florida to see the Gibbs’ football players dominate their opponents. Names such as Book Drayton (famous quarterback), Rufus “Ghost” Adams, Al Mosely, Baby Ray Harden, Sevell “Citation” Brown, Jr., Urial “Tankhead” Tift, Melvin “K9” Cannon, Sydney Campbell, Martin Campbell, Lester Campbell, Coach Al Campbell, Donald Campbell, Luthrell & Hiram “Big Wine” Church, Buster “Blazing” Bland, Terrell “Dec” Danley, Vernell Ross and a host of other greats appeared in his articles, along with legendary coaches Love Brown and Moon Johnson.

Other Gibbs reporters were Terrell Danley, Sylvester Shannon and other greats. Jordan left the Evening Independent, and Mohr took over while still in school at Gibbs.  After he graduated and left for college, Danley took over as reporter for the Evening Independent, also while still attending Gibbs.

Mohr’s academic excellence, along with Dr. Gilbert “Sunny” Leggett, was a thing of pride at Gibbs and around the city. Mohr and Leggett became civil rights partners in crime, always advocating for a better Pinellas County School system.

Along with Leggett’s cousin, Louis E. Lomax, who was in and out of St. Pete over the years, the three of them constituted the “Trio of Academicians of Excellence.”  Lomax went on to become a nationally renowned journalist and author of “To Kill a Black Man: The Shocking Parallel in the Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.”

St. Petersburg was a mecca of academic excellence permeated with great educators.

Mohr, the son of pioneer Dean Mohr, who founded the YMCA in the St. Pete African-American community, went on the teach math at 16th St. Jr. High School, then served as one of the founding professors and administrators at historic Gibbs Jr. College.

After receiving his doctorate from Oklahoma State University, Mohr became the dean of Florida A&M University’s School of Education.  The school included undergraduate and graduate programs.

Mohr’s administrative excellence is held in the highest esteem as he played a vital role in stopping the Board of Regents attempts to phase out FAMU in the early 1970s and merge it with Florida State University.  His administrative pursuits continued as he served as the vice president of Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va., and president of historic Talladega College in Alabama.

He now serves as the director of Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) programs for the Alabama Commission On Higher Education in Montgomery, Ala. He administers the SREB Minority Doctoral Scholars, which is number one in graduates and graduates employed.

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