Robert W. Saunders, Sr.
Library Foundation

"We Change Lives"

About Robert W. Saunders Sr.

A Guiding Force In Civil Rights

Bob Saunders was born in Tampa, Florida in 1921 and grew up in the Roberts City section of the city just two miles west of the library that today bears his name. He graduated from Middleton High School and attended Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. During World War II, Bob was drafted into the military and served in the Army Air Corps at Tuskegee Air Field, where he earned a World War II Victory Medal. He later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Detroit Institute of Technology.

Saunders enrolled in the University of Detroit Law School, but in 1952 curtailed his studies to accept an offer from civil rights icon Walter White to serve as Florida's NAACP Field Secretary. For the next fourteen years he directed Florida's NAACP campaigns from his office in Tampa in the midst of the South's turbulent (and often dangerous) struggle for civil rights. Bob later worked in an equal opportunity administrative position for the federal government in Atlanta, Georgia before returning to Tampa as Hillsborough County's equal opportunity administrator.

Bob retired in 1988 and wrote about his rich experiences in his autobiography titled "Bridging the Gap: Continuing the Florida NAACP Legacy of Harry T. Moore (Saunders 2000).

Saunders died in 2002 as a result of injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. He is survived by his son Robert W. Saunders, Jr., and a brother, Dr. Norman Jackson of Quincy, Florida.

The Ybor city Library opened in the 1930's on 7th Avenue. It was rebuilt in 1969 at 1505 N. Nebraska Avenue. The structure will move into a new $7.8 million, 30,000 sq. ft. facility in October 2014 at the existing site.

*Picture courtesy of TBO.Com Media