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Herald Tribune: Historic Leonard Reid home renovation to open as Newtown cultural center in January

SARASOTA — After a year of construction and updates, renovations of the former home of Sarasota African American pioneer Leonard Reid are nearing completion and the former home will soon be opening to the public as a new cultural center for residents and visitors in the historic Newtown community.  Set to open in late January 2024, the new Sarasota African American Cultural Center is the culmination of years of work from Newtown historian and Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition (SAACC) president Vickie Oldham.   After successfully rescuing the 1,400-square-foot 1920s home from what could have been a demolition, Oldham was instrumental in not only relocating the home to its permanent museum site but also the decision-maker behind the unique team of builders who stepped up to the task of preserving the Black history of Sarasota for future generations and residents, Envision-CS. Read full article.

Newtown celebrates history of Newtown with new quilt – Observer

The Newtown community in Sarasota, Florida, has a rich history that spans over a century, and now, local artist and community leader, Barbara Gaskin, has created a quilt that honors that history. The quilt, which measures 12 feet by 12 feet, features 36 panels that depict important moments and figures in Newtown’s history. Gaskin, who has lived in Newtown since the 1970s, spent over three years researching and creating the quilt. She interviewed residents, pored over historical documents and photographs, and worked with other community members to ensure that the quilt accurately represented the community’s history. The result is a stunning work of art that tells the story of Newtown’s past and present. Each panel of the quilt represents a different aspect of Newtown’s history, from the first African American settlers who arrived in the area in the late 1800s to the present day. Some panels depict notable figures, such

Changing curriculum urges scholar to spark conversation

WUSF 89.7’s Kerry Sheridan interviews Sarasota resident and author James Stewart about Florida’s changing Advanced Placement Black History curriculum. The Florida Department of Education has revised its curriculum for Black history after facing criticism over its previous version. The new curriculum includes more comprehensive coverage of Black history, including the contributions of Black Americans to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The previous curriculum, which was implemented in 2019, drew criticism for its limited coverage of Black history and its focus on slavery and segregation. Many educators and community leaders argued that the curriculum did not adequately reflect the contributions of Black Americans to American history and culture. The new curriculum, which was developed with input from educators and community leaders, aims to address these concerns. It includes a more diverse range of topics, including the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, and the contributions of Black Americans to

Rosalyn Howard Remembered

A committed scholar and amazing Friend. Dr. Rosalyn Howard is remembered by Vickie Oldham. SAAC President and CEO Vickie Oldham memorialized Dr. Rosalyn Howard recently in the Herald Tribune . She was an accomplished anthropologist and associate professor at the University of Central Florida. Rosalyn’s work helped add historical context to the actions of early pioneers and civil rights leaders. She passed on March 4th, 2023. Rosalyn Howard is remembered fondly as a mentor, partner, and most of all a friend. Here is a snippet from the story: “I hear Dr. Rosalyn Howard’s voice in all of the ‘Looking for Angola’ resources that our research team created from the time we began our search in 2005 for artifacts related to the 1800s Black Seminole settlement. Her fingerprints are on the materials that document Newtown’s 100-year-plus history; indeed, Newtown Alive’s research report, website, book, oral history interviews, podcast series and historic