Gibbs Junior College Alumni to Celebrate the 60th Anniversary

BY WALTER SMITH, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — The graduates of Gibbs Junior College are excited about the upcoming 60th anniversary celebration of the institution that provided the launching of a higher education for so many African Americans from the areas of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Pasco, Hernando and Polk Counties from 1957 to 1965.

This two-year college was the second African-American institution established by the State of Florida as part of an effort to create 12 junior colleges throughout the state.

Founded under the Leadership of Dr. John W. Rembert, the college began with a small enrollment of 250 students, many of whom rode buses from their home counties to the St. Petersburg campus for classes.  This student population grew to over 900 by the time the decision was made in 1965 to merge Gibbs and St. Petersburg Junior College.

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Fortunately, the history of Gibbs Junior College had been so outstanding in terms of the quality of the faculty, students and the array of successful activities that shortly after the merger of the two institutions, the main campus of St. Petersburg Junior College was named the Gibbs campus.

One of its outstanding characteristics was the fact that Gibbs Junior College was fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools by 1964.  With this status, as the merger took place, many members of the administration and faculty became a part of the newly merged institution and brought with them many talents in academia, extra-curricular activities and competitive sports at the college level.

As the alumni association has continued to grow under the leadership of the current president, William McCloud, and the support of hundreds of graduates of their alma mater, many students have been provided scholarships to pursue an education beyond high school.

The 60th-anniversary celebration entitled “Keeping the Legacy Alive” has been well planned. To ensure that all participants have opportunities to enjoy their moments together, there will be activities on all three days, May 26, 27 & 28.

Friday, May 26 will be the opening activity, including registration for the golf tournament, the welcoming reception and the opening of the hospitality suite.  Saturday, May 27 will be highlighted by the golf tournament, the alumni business meeting and an evening banquet/dance (semi-formal attire).  On Sunday there will be a worship service beginning at 10 a.m.

As the effort to provide historical and futuristic concepts become a part of the formal banquet and scholarship gala, this year themed “Remembering Our Past and Preparing Others for the Future,” special presentations will be made.  The keynote speaker for the function will be Florida State Senator Darryl E. Rouson and the Master of Ceremony will be Laura Harris of ABC Action News. A number of scholarship awards will also be presented to high school graduates.

Anyone interested in participating in the golf tournament that will take place on the Highlands North Golf Course at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Palm Harbor should contact Rufus Lewis at (813) 876-9654. For other activities and information, contact Josephine Smith at (727) 866-6067 or Mr. William McCloud at (813) 852-2481.

The alums are looking forward to seeing other Cobras and other friends at this outstanding historical event that reflects how they applaud their achievements, plan for the future and support the youth.

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