Sarasota County is located on Florida's West Coast on the Gulf of Mexico about sixty miles south of Tampa. The county includes the cities of Sarasota, Longboat Key, North Port and Venice, and the communities of Englewood and Siesta Key. The population of Sarasota County is approximately 326,000 people, including four percent Blacks and four percent Latinos. The City of Sarasota has a population of approximately 52,000 people. Bradenton is just north of Sarasota and has a population of 53,800 people. There are over 7,400 Blacks in Bradenton or 15% of the total population. Bradenton is one of six incorporated cities in Manatee County and is the largest. Like much of Southwest Florida, the Sarasota/Bradenton area is a popular tourist destination. It has also become a center for the arts, culture and business. Its' warm climate and Gulf of Mexico beaches draw visitors as well as residents from around the country and the world.

Black History
In the book "But Your World and My World," the author, Annie M. McElroy, indicates that "The early black settlers in the area were fishermen, farmers, workers in the Citrus groves, employees of the wealthy, workers in the growing tourist industry or owners of their own businesses". The Florida boom of 1925 brought great prosperity to this area and everyone benefited from it. Developers from all over came and construction work attracted many more families. Black professionals and contractors also came to enjoy the prosperity. The center of the Black community in Sarasota was Newtown, where people shopped and did those things essential to their well being. Residential housing, Black businesses, churches and recreational facilities were found here. The growing Black community experienced the same kind of racism, struggle to educate its children, and the pains and rewards of the Civil Rights Movement that have characterized most southern communities.

Black Leaders
Leaders emerged who led the struggle and fought for the civil rights of others, who were educators and mentors to many, and who became the strength of the Black community. They were men and women like Howard Porter, Tony Major and Emma E. Booker, who was a teacher and principal after whom E. E. Booker Middle School and Booker High School were named. Coach Alphonso Baker was the last coach for the segregated Black Booker High School. Rev. Jerome Dupree was a former educator and principal at Booker and the second Black mayor of Sarasota. Fred Adkins was the first. William Fred Jackson was founder of the Black press in Sarasota and the first publisher of "The Weekly Bulletin" and "Tempo Magazine." Neil Humphrey, Sr., was president of the NAACP during the era of integration. He was a local business leader who owned Humphrey's Grocery and Drug Store. John Henry Rivers took over the reigns as president of the NAACP and continued the fight and struggle. These individuals and other community leaders such as Dr. Ed James II, Sheila Brown and Barbara Harvey guided the Black community through the delicate years of integration of the schools, beaches and public facilities.

The fight is not over and new as well as older faces are on the scene. They include men and women like the former mayor of Sarasota, Carolyn Mason; the past president of the NAACP, Rev. Willie Holley; Judge Charles Williams, the first Black judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit Courts; educators like Mary Watts and Lynette Edwards; Manatee County assistant superintendent of schools, Louise Rogers, who served on the Manatee County School Board; and Rev. Henry Porter, founder of the Westcoast Center for Human Development, to name a few.

Family Heritage House
The Family Heritage House Museum in Bradenton was founded by Fredi Sears Brown and her husband, Ernest in 1990. The museum has a wide variety of historical memorabilia, photos, letters, clothes, exhibits and miscellaneous items on display. One of the more recent exhibits at the museum is a model of a neighborhood near downtown Bradenton in the 1970s. The neighborhood was the hub for African-Americans living in the area. The downtown area provided commercial businesses, grocers, churches, restaurants, movie theaterss and a funeral home for the residents.

When the city decided to expand the area, everything was torn down and demolished and the community split apart losing its home base. Thanks to thorough research, eyewitness accounts and personal photos, an exact model of the thriving neighborhood was created and currently on display at the museum.

The museum has an extensive library with decades of archived news events, biographical information, announcements and local church history available for perusal. Family Heritage House Museum is located within a special wing of the State College of Florida.

Looking To The Future
In recent years there have been positive signs including Blacks assuming positions of responsibility in the community and the public school system. In addition over 500 Blacks have retired to this area from other parts of the country, after successful careers in many fields of human endeavor. They have integrated residential areas throughout Sarasota and Bradenton and are beginning to connect with key people in the established Black community.

Sarasota/Bradenton
Area Information
Manasota Branch
Morning view of the Ringling bridge taken at Bird Key in Sarasota, Florida.
Photo copyright by rusty one. Click for details.
Event Calendar
2014
January 11 at 2 PM
"Traces Of The Trade"
Buchanan Film Series
at N Sarasota Library

January 16 at 10 AM
Executive Board Meeting at
N Sarasota Library

January 24 at 10 AM
Membership meeting at
N Sarasota Library

February 20 at 10 AM
Executive Board Meeting at
N Sarasota Library

February 28 at 10 AM
Membership meeting at
N Sarasota Library

March 15 at 2 PM
"Banished"
Buchanan Film Series
at N Sarasota Library

April 11
Randy Rankin Golf & Tennis Scholarship Classic at
Lakewood Ranch Coutry Club

April 19 at 2 PM
"Brother Outsider"
Buchanan Film Series
at N Sarasota Library