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PHSC Celebrates its 50th Anniversary and Black History Month: Grade 13

A system of junior colleges serving African-American students was established by the state in 1949

Grade 13

Grade 13 was created because Black Americans were not permitted to attend Florida colleges and universities. This was the start of the community colleges. 

  • 12 Black junior colleges in Florida existed between 1949 and 1966, known as the Magnificent Twelve.​
  • 11 colleges were created after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, before state law caught up to Federal law​.
  • Largely attached to existing Black high schools, they were created to address the need for higher ed in Florida. 
  • Gov. Lee Roy Collins established the Community College Council in 1955 to address such needs, with an eye towards future integration.​
  • Magnificent Twelve merged with white junior colleges to create the Florida Community College System (now FCS) of today. ​
  • Booker T Washington Junior College in Escambia county was the first, founded in 1949. Gibbs Junior College in Pinellas (1957) was the first founded in as a result of the Community College Council.​


Smith, Walter L. The Magnificent Twelve: Florida's Black Junior Colleges. FOUR-G Publishers, 1994.