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Tuskegee, Alabama to Miami, Florida

Bob Simms was born on October 2, 1927 in Snow Hill, Alabama. Snow Hill was the site rural extension program created by the Tuskegee Institute to train teachers who could not attend classes on the campus. The Simms family later relocated to the town of Tuskegee. The community was a vibrant center of learning and accomplishment revolving around the Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington in 1899. Tuskegee's rich history includes the research and teaching of George Washington Carver, and the singular achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. The Simms family was deeply involved in the civic and academic life of this remarkable community.

The Simms family moved to Miami, Florida during the fall of 1953 when Bob Simms accepted the position of chair of the physical education department at George Washington Carver Junior and Senior High School of Coconut Grove. When he arrived Miami was a segregated and racially divided city. Guided by the values of civic participation he had inherited from his parents, Bob Simms became engaged in the effort to create a better, fairer, more tolerant South Florida. From 1968 to 1983 he served as Executive Director of the Metro Dade Community Relations Board. Mr. Simms developed the Miami Inner-City Minority Experience (MICME) for the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1970s and led efforts to create and implement the Inner City Marine Project (now Mast Academy). With his late wife Aubrey Watkins Simms, he was a founding member of the Church of the Open Door in Liberty City. His daughter, Leah Simms, became the first black woman to serve as a judge in Florida.