Newtown Heritage Trail Added to U.S. Civil Rights Trail

Arts & Culture


Visit Sarasota County has announced the addition of The Newtown African American Heritage Trail as an official attraction on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which has more than 100 attractions across 15 states. The Newtown African American Heritage Trail is now the southernmost site.

The Newtown African American Heritage Trail highlights the history of Sarasota’s African-American community, and the 1950s and 1960s efforts of Newtown residents to desegregate Sarasota’s beaches. These “beach wade-ins” of the 1950s drew media attention and opened an early front in the fight for equal rights years before better-known state and national civil rights victories of the 1960s. The wade-ins, modeled after lunch counter sit-ins, coupled with activists’ attendance at city and county commission meetings moved the needle toward beach access at a time when less than two miles of Florida’s 2,000 miles of beaches were open for use by African-Americans. It wasn’t until the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 that Sarasota County beaches were fully integrated.

Visitors can visit and experience the Newtown African American Heritage Trail through Newtown Alive’s narrated trolley tours, available on Feb. 2, 6, 8 and 24 and throughout the year. Aboard the trolley tour, guests are treated to onboard storytelling by African American pioneers who transformed one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, and freedom song leaders provide musical inspiration. The cost is $40 per person.  For more information and to book a tour, visit the website below.

Newtown Alive Trolley Tour

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