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Sarasota’s first Black cultural center edges closer to reality

SARASOTA – The Leonard Reid family played a critical role in the establishment of Sarasota’s earliest African American community. Now their home is one step closer to playing a critical role in preserving that community’s rich history and future.  In the summer, the city of Sarasota, an area developer, Newtown Alive and the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition reached an agreement to move the historic Reid house to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. corridor in Newtown to serve as the starter home of Sarasota’s first center honoring the legacy and impact of its Black community.  This week city commissioners agreed to spend up to $116,000 from local business taxes that were previously earmarked for a grant to help business owners weather the coronavirus. The funding will be used to help cover the costs to prepare the parcels on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Orange Avenue. 

GUEST EDITORIAL: The history of Black America by James Stewart

GUEST EDITORIAL: The history of Black America by James Stewart As president of the Manasota branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, I am responding to a recent letter (“Black History Month provides education,” Oct. 31) disputing the need for a lynching memorial in the local community. While the writer correctly identifies the name of the organization and its founding date, there are several misconceptions and inaccuracies that need to be addressed. What is now celebrated as Black History Month was inaugurated in 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson to highlight the history and accomplishments of African Americans. However, his intent was not to restrict the examination of this topic to February. Local branches, including the 350-member Manasota branch, were organized to encourage preservation of local records and artifacts. In addition, Woodson championed the dissemination of knowledge through a variety of initiatives, including school

SEIDMAN: Historic house to become starter home for city’s first Black culture center

The Leonard Reid home will be moved from the Rosemary District to city land in Newtown to become the beginnings of the Sarasota African American Cultural Center. It’s not every day you bring together a governmental agency, a developer and two organizations focused on historic preservation and cultural celebration and walk away with a deal that’s satisfying to everyone. But that’s exactly what happened last week when the city of Sarasota, developer John Hermansen, Newtown Alive and the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition (SAACC) reached an agreement to move a historic house to the Dr. Martin Luther King Way corridor in Newtown to serve as the starter home of Sarasota’s first center honoring the legacy and impact of its Black community. City commissioners, who voted unanimously for the purchase of nearly two acres at MLK and North Orange Avenue where the house will reside, were happy to envision a destination

City of Sarasota Receives Grant to Support Newtown

The Newtown Historic Conservation District is among 18 projects nationwide—the only one in Florida—to be awarded an Underrepresented Community Grant from the National Park Service. The $50,000 grant will give the city of Sarasota “all the tools in our toolbox” to put together the nomination to have the Newtown Historic Conservation District placed on the National Register of Historic Places, says city planner and historic preservation expert Dr. Clifford Smith. “This is huge,” says Smith. “Being on the National Register means more grant opportunities for historic preservation. And it means it will allow more flexibility under the Florida Building Code; you’d be exempt from elevating [a structure] under the FEMA 50-percent rule, for example.” Including the city of Sarasota, eight states, six Native American tribes, two local governments, the District of Columbia and the Federated States of Micronesia were the recipients of a total of $750,000 in Underrepresented Community grants