James B. Sanderlin became the first Pinellas County African-American judge in 1972 and the first African-American circuit court judge in 1976. In 1985, he was appointed to the Second District Court of Appeals by then-Governor Bob Graham.
He successfully helped to desegregate Pinellas County School schools, making integration a reality in Hillsborough and Sarasota Counties as well. In 1965, he waged a successful suit for the 12 black police officers, who were relegated to serving only the black community, to serve the entire city. In 1968, he defended the sanitation workers striking for increased wages and better working conditions when the city fired them.
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