Roosevelt Junior College, Palm Beach County’s first institution of higher education for African-Americans, opened its doors to students in the fall of 1958. Britton G. Sayles served as the president of the college as well as the principal of the all-black Roosevelt High School, which shared its campus with the junior college for the first year. Over its seven-year history, the college grew in stature and in size, gaining accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and membership in the American Association of Junior Colleges. The college became an educational and cultural pillar in the community, creating opportunities for black students to advance their education and enrich their lives.
The push for integration prompted the Board of Public Instruction to close the school in 1965 and send its students and some faculty to Palm Beach Junior College (now Palm Beach State College). Forty-eight years later, Roosevelt Junior College lives on in the hearts and minds of its alumni, employees and the community.
Britton Sayles Building
Palm Beach Community College rededicated the newly renovated Britton G. Sayles Social Science Building at the Lake Worth campus on Thursday, March 2, 2006.
Sayles was an esteemed educator in the Palm Beach County school system, a leading community activist and the first black college president in Palm Beach County. As principal of Roosevelt High School, he also served as president of the all-black Roosevelt Junior College from its opening in 1958 until it was closed in 1965 and its students merged with the mostly white Palm Beach Junior College (now Palm Beach State College).
Palm Beach Community College originally named the building after Sayles in 1993. The ceremony honored Sayles and highlighted the total renovation of the building to provide a more conducive learning environment for students. At the rededication, a cast bronze plaque with a relief bust of Sayles was unveiled at the entrance of the building.
Former students, employees and friends of Roosevelt Junior College were special guests at the event.