Sarasota's Newtown Community
Manasota ASALH in partnership with historian Ms. Vickie Oldham – ASALH member –was awarded a grant to map and document the 100-year history of the Newtown Community located within Sarasota, Florida.
As Newtown commemorates its 100th anniversary, attention is focused on its past, present, and future. It is important because the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication of Sarasota’s African American residents helped in Sarasota’s development. Blacks cleared snake-infested wooded land for real estate developers, laid railroad ties, planted citrus and celery fields, helped plat golf courses, and labored in the homes of the town’s most influential power brokers – cooking, cleaning, ironing, and rearing children.
The small African American community valued education and practiced their religious traditions despite segregation. The churches and the Booker High School complex were cornerstones. At the center of the self-contained town within a town with its distinctive neighborhoods was a thriving business district that offered goods and services because downtown shops in Sarasota were closed to African Americans.
This project is a seven- to eight-month event. As additional research is uncovered, the project will be updated on this site as well as the soon to be implemented website for the project itself.