Black History Month - Newtown Celebrates

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As Black History Month draws to a close, Sarasota's African American community has much to be proud of.

Sarasota is the only city in South West Florida that has a Mayor and Vice Mayor of color.

And during Black History Month this year, a new organization called "Newtown Alive" has shown how it is now preserving and showcasing Newtown's history. So heroes past and present will not be forgotten.

Mayor Willie Shaw keeps pictures of his parents, grand parents and great grandparents in his office, reminding him of his deep roots in Sarasota's African American Community.

He wants to make sure the the heroes and landmarks in his community are remembered.

Like Leonard Reid. In the early 1900's , Reid was the right hand man to Colonial John Gillespie, Sarasota's first Mayor.

Reid helped lay out some of the first golf courses in Florida, and was a close confident to Gillespie.

In his honor, the Reid home was put on the Registry of Historic Places. It's already been moved from it's original location, and development is rapidly closing in on it. It's one of the last structures still standing in this once vibrant black community of Overtown.

Other heroes Mayor Shaw wants to remember during this Black History Month, those who integrated Bobby Jones Golf Course in Feb. of 1959.

He says, "Bud Thomas, Mr. Rayne, the Davis', a foursome went to Ken Thompson, the City Manager, and he agreed to allow them to go ahead and play. And the paper stated there were no incidents."

Another hero to remember, Mayor Shaw says, Mr. Neil Humphrey, Sarasota's first NAACP President, who was responsible for the integration of Lido Beach. And .Dr. Ed James, host of Black Almanac on ABC 7, who led the charge to integrate Sarasota Libraries .

Mayor Shaw says "knowing their stories makes me very very proud to represent the City of Sarasota."

You can learn all about Newtown history, follow the time line,, see the pictures and read the stories of the people. Just go to