Newtown Honors its History

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The Newtown Alive project revealed 15 markers that will mark historic locations throughout Newtown.

Vickie Oldham said she was grateful to find tissues tucked inside the podium at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex Feb. 18 during the unveiling of 15 historic markers that will be placed throughout Newtown as part of the Newtown Alive project.

Oldham, the project’s lead consultant, said she had a lot of people to thank for the progress of Newtown Alive, a project which has documented this history of Sarasota’s historically African American neighborhoods.

She thanked former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins for beginning discussions about documenting the history of Sarasota’s African American community in 1985 a city commissioner. She thanked her team of researchers, the community for participating in the project and the city of Sarasota for funding its primary phases.

All in all, the event was characterized by gratitude. Speakers applauded the work of community members that came before them — activists, entrepreneurs and educators — who paved the way for a better future.

The contributions of those community members were honored as current members of the Newtown community pulled off thin pieces of cloth that covered reproductions of the plagues.

But even as Newtown celebrated its history, many community members looked to the future.

“(Our history) can’t just stay here,” former president of the Manasota branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History Mark Jackson said. “It has to go to the young people … This is a living history.”

Vickie Oldham said she was grateful to find tissues tucked inside the podium at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex Feb. 18 during the unveiling of 15 historic markers that will be placed throughout Newtown as part of the Newtown Alive project.

Oldham, the project’s lead consultant, said she had a lot of people to thank for the progress of Newtown Alive, a project which has documented this history of Sarasota’s historically African American neighborhoods.

She thanked former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins for beginning discussions about documenting the history of Sarasota’s African American community in 1985 a city commissioner. She thanked her team of researchers, the community for participating in the project and the city of Sarasota for funding its primary phases.

All in all, the event was characterized by gratitude. Speakers applauded the work of community members that came before them — activists, entrepreneurs and educators — who paved the way for a better future.

The contributions of those community members were honored as current members of the Newtown community pulled off thin pieces of cloth that covered reproductions of the plagues.

But even as Newtown celebrated its history, many community members looked to the future.

“(Our history) can’t just stay here,” former president of the Manasota branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History Mark Jackson said. “It has to go to the young people … This is a living history.”

by: Anna Brugmann

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