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The Sarasota African American Cultural Center

The Past Informs the Future.

Preserve, celebrate & share.

Our Mission

Our mission is to preserve, celebrate, and share the cultural, artistic, and historical heritage of African Americans in Sarasota and beyond. At every step of the decision-making process, we will prioritize actions that align with our Vision, Mission, and Values. We recognize that we have access to substantial community resources and partnership opportunities, and we will leverage these to the fullest extent possible. Our ultimate goal is to improve the economic vitality and livability of Newtown, while also preserving and sharing the rich history and culture of African Americans in our community and beyond. We believe that creating opportunities for enlightenment and learning, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities, will be key to achieving these objectives. Additionally, we are committed to empowering the community to actively participate in all aspects of our work, ensuring that our achievements are sustained and perpetuated for years to come.

The time is now!

This is our moment.
Join our Movement.

Sarasota, a city rich in African American history is a pivotal location in the narrative of civil rights activism. The achievements of Black activists during the transformative Civil Rights Movement has positioned Sarasota alongside iconic destinations as a significant node on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition, Inc. (SAACC) recognizes the importance of this moment and our objective is to amplify the remarkable legacy of resilient and trailblazing pioneers who shaped Sarasota’s foundation. 

SAACC is committed to sharing their courage, dignity, and determination. If ever there was a time to do so, it is now!

We’ll illuminate the history and heritage of visionary leaders at the historic Leonard Reid House through leadership and mentoring training, African American history talks, performances, demonstrations  and festivals. 

This is the start of a broader vision to expand the arts, culture and history center’s footprint. Future plans call for the construction of a new and larger facility adjacent to the Reid House. 

A center for all time & all people.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 1,400 sq ft house was built in 1926 in Sarasota’s earliest African American community, Overtown, which Leonar Reid helped to establish. The Reid House will be transformed into a new arts, culture and history center that will host exhibits about Black life and history. It will have performance space for Black artists and offer public programs and classes in drawing, painting, photography, writing, health and wellness, leadership and entrepreneurship.

calendar of events

feb

22

Join us for the first Black History Month celebration in partnership with University Town Center! Food, music and local vendors will come together for a fun family event.

feb

7-28

A virtual event highlighting Black artists and their work. Go to the ASALH website for more information, www.asalh-manasotafl.org.

feb

24

Join us to remember and honor victims of racial terror at the Unitarian Universalist Church. There is an overflow area.
To watch the live-stream at 11 a.m. Saturday Feb. 24, please visit
www.ManasotaRemembers.org.

Feb - apr

12

Experience the Tampa Bay Civil Rights historical exhibit, showcasing a compelling narrative from February 12 to April 15, 2024. For further details, please reach out to (813) 419-0454.

Donate — you'll be matched!

We have the green light to receive matching donations through the Louis & Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust. The organization will provide matching donations of 100% between $5 and $500 from each household per month. For instance, if you give $100, SAACC will receive a total of $200. The donation is tax deductible.

Mail a check to the Louis & Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust, 1266 First Street, Suite 1, Sarasota, FL 34239. Note in the memo: SAACC.

If you prefer donating online, follow the instructions at this link: https://flanzertrust.org/make-a-donation/.

Select “Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition” under “Choose your recipient.” Enter contact information. Select the charity from the drop down menu. Click “Submit Your Information to Proceed” then “click here” to finalize the donation through PayPal. Enter the amount — if it’s a monthly donation, check the box. Enter the donate with PayPal bar or donate with Debit or Credit Card. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to our wonderful
SAACC SUPPORT!

The City of Sarasota ● Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation ● Frank & Katherine Martucci ● Gulf Coast Community Foundation ● Sarasota County Community Foundation ● Selby Foundation ● Individual Donors ● Volunteers

SAACC stands as a testament to the power of preserving history while inspiring a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

latest articles

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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Showcasing accomplishments
of trailblazing pioneers!

Vision of SAACC

The creation of a physical center in or near Newtown is a central component of SAACC’s vision. This center will be the hub from which the organization will develop programs that promote and celebrate the creative and cultural assets of Sarasota’s African American community. We envision collaborative partnerships with local, regional, state and national arts, history and cultural institutions.

Staff and Board

VICKIE OLDHAM M.F.A.
President and CEO

Vickie Oldham M.F.A. is president and CEO of the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition, Inc. SAACC’s goal is to open an art center and history museum. The precursor of this historic preservation initiative is “Newtown Alive.”

WASHINGTON HILL, M.D.
Chairman of the Board

Dr. Hill is Founder of the High Risk Pregnancy Program at SMH and Chair of the Sarasota African American Cultural Center, Inc. (SAACC) Board of Directors.

REV. BROCK H. LEACH
Board member

Rev. Brock H. Leach, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who works for the Unitarian Universalist Association as Executive Consultant for Emerging Ministries helps to develop and lead denominational efforts to support religious innovators.

LAWRENCE A. MILLER, PH.D.
Board Member

Dr. Lawrence Miller is the former city manager for the City of Arcadia, the first African American to hold the position there. He was also the assistant city manager for the City of Sarasota.

THE HONORABLE
CHARLES E. WILLIAMS
Board Member

Charles E. Williams is a circuit judge for the 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida. The 12th Judicial Circuit covers Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.

vision and mission

Shared Vision

We envision Newtown as a thriving epicenter of cultural and economic vitality. SAACC seeks to impart knowledge, ignite understanding, appreciation, and unity in the community and the region that is experiencing dynamic growth and transformation.

Mission

To preserve, celebrate, and share the rich cultural, artistic, and historical heritage of African Americans in Sarasota and beyond.

Guiding Principles

In making decisions, we will strive for actions that will:

  • be consistent with our Vision, Mission and Values
  • leverage our considerable community resources and partnership opportunities
  • contribute to improving the economic vitality and livability of Newtown
  • contribute to the preservation and sharing of African American history and culture in Newtown and beyond
  • create opportunities for enlightenment and learning
  • create entrepreneurial opportunities
  • empower the community to actively participate
  • sustain and perpetuate current achievements and future successes

Goals:

GOAL 1: Establish a historical and cultural center in or near Newtown that will contribute to revitalizing the community.

Objective 1: Establish a temporary site initially.

Objective 2: Establish a permanent site.

GOAL 2: Establish a range of programs that celebrate the longstanding African American presence in Newtown, Overtown and Sarasota, that facilitates learning, and encourages a shared experience.

Objective 1: Develop a programming and exhibits plan for the initial year.

Objective 2: Develop long-range programming and an exhibits plan.

GOAL 3: Increase community awareness about Newtown, Overtown and the efforts to preserve its history and culture.

GOAL 4: Establish lasting and sustainable collaborations and partnerships with arts, historical and cultural organizations that will support continued success of the coalition and its work for the Newtown community.

GOAL 5: Develop a long range, sustainable funding strategy that will include business revenues, fundraising events, grants, earned income and donations.