James B. Sanderlin Pre K-8 is committed to teaching and learning with the brain and heart in mind. Our community of active, lifelong learners will use an inquiry approach through our challenging programmes to become internationally-minded citizens.
James B. Sanderlin, 1929-1990
Our school is named after a very important Judge in Pinellas County's history. Jim Sanderlin came to Pinellas county in 1962 and expanded the number of African American lawyers. In 1972 he became the first African American County Judge and in 1976 the first African American Circuit Judge.
On May 7, 1964, a complaint was filed with the federal courts challenging a state-imposed dual system of public schools. On behalf of five African American families, Mr. Sanderlin successfully sued the Pinellas County School system to desegregate the schools. This action simultaneously desegregated schools in Sarasota and Hillsborough counties. At the time, 10,000 of the 10,200 black students in Pinellas attended all-black public schools and no white children attended predominately black public schools.
It is only fitting that such a revered pioneer in human rights be remembered in such a fine school as James B. Sanderlin Elementary.
Before Mr. Sanderlin was elected Pinellas' first black judge in 1972, Sanderlin fought civil rights battles as a young lawyer. He sued the city of St. Petersburg for not paying a promised wage increase to its sanitation workers, who were almost all black. He also sued the city's Police Department, forcing it to integrate more than a dozen police zones.
Sanderlin's greatest love was young people, the Rev. Wayne G. Thompson said. Thompson, pastor of First Baptist Institutional Church, recalled meeting Sanderlin as a boy living in segregated St. Petersburg. "He always encouraged us to stay in school and do our best," Thompson said. "We didn't want to have to show the judge any bad grades."
Listen to a Sanderlin student speak about Judge Sanderlin.