Black History MonthArticle: One, Two, Three

Professor William Douglass Robbins
(December 25, 1897 – November 11, 1963)

Taken from the Mobile County Schools Website

          William Douglass Robbins came to Mobile at the age of two and was the son of Joe I. and Virginia Washington-Robbins of Coy, Alabama. He was one of four children, the only son, and his sisters were Katherine, Annie, and Hattie. Robbins was born on Christmas Day in 1897 in Lower Peach Tree, Alabama. He graduated from the Broad Street Academy under William Amyer Caldwell in the class of 1913. He served his country during World War 1. Robbins had the privilege of a secondary education and attended Alabama State College. He later received his Master’s degree from New York University.

Robbins was awarded honorary degrees from Tuskegee Institute and Alabama State College because of his outstanding achievements in the field of music. He was a member of the Franklin Street Baptist Church where he served many years as the organist. His educational experiences cover many miles in that he taught at Cottage Hill, Allenville, Grand Bay, and Booker T. Washington Schools. When the new A. F. Owens School was built near Davis Avenue in 1932, he was selected to be the principal. He served as the principal of this school from 1932 until his death in 1963.

Robbins was involved in various civic organizations, such as the Mobile County Teachers Association, the National Education Association, and the Alabama State Teachers Association. He was never married and had no children. Because of his association and love of children, they referred to him as “Fess” for professor.

Robbins studied under the great educator, George Washington Carver, while in Tuskegee. As many people remembered, he would use phonics to teach young people how to read. He ran an obedient school and reminded the children to be respectful of one another. There were so many children who passed under the leadership of Professor Robbins, and they remembered the things he taught them which contributed to their success as adults in their chosen fields. After a brief illness, Robbins died November 11, 1963, at the age of sixty-four and is buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery. The newly built Robbins Elementary School was dedicated in honor of William Douglass Robbins on September 12, 1965. This elementary school is located on Main Street in Prichard, Alabama.

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