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Sarasota has rich African American history. The actions and accomplishments of black activists during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s are listed on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail among the nation’s most iconic destinations from Selma to Birmingham and Washington, D. C. The Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition, Inc. (SAACC) was developed to showcase the accomplishments of trailblazing pioneers who built Sarasota’s infrastructure.

In 2015, the City of Sarasota funded the Newtown Conservation Historic District project now known as “Newtown Alive.” A team documented the African American community’s history in two phases, a research report and multi-media products.

Currently, Sarasota has no facility with ample space dedicated solely to black residents and their fight for full access to Sarasota’s beaches, libraries, schools and other public accommodations.
Nor is there an art center and history museum that promotes the creative, cultural and historic vibrancy of Sarasota’s African American community – but it is clearly needed.

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 Coalition will develop programs that promote and celebrate the creative and cultural assets of Sarasota’s African American community. We envision a center of partnership and collaboration which capitalizes on the offerings of arts and cultural institutions.

Shared Vision

Newtown is a thriving, culturally and economically vibrant community that cherishes the African American experience and where people come to live, learn, work, invest and play.


Preserve, celebrate and share the 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


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.