The Soul of Sarasota

Greater Sarasota

Building on her roots in the black church in Newtown, Melanie Lavender turned to writing and performing spoken word as a way to heal from multiple tragedies. She continues to cultivate strength and to speak up about the need for representation in Sarasota. Through her story, we’ll explore Newtown’s rich culture and heritage as a vital force for the future of Sarasota.

Click here to view the accompanying video produced by PBS

Sun, Sand and civil rights: Uncovering Black history at the beach and beyond

Sarasota, Florida’s white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters draw visitors from far and wide, but they weren’t always so welcoming.

“Few of our guests, our international and domestic tourists who come here, understand why these beaches are open to Black and brown people from everywhere in the world,” said Vickie Oldham, who chronicled 100 years of local Black history for her hometown. “It’s because of the Black activists that pushed for open access to our pristine beaches.”

Click to read the whole USA Today article by Eve Chen.