Event to begin at 3 p.m., with vehicles to line up at intersection of 20th Street and Central Avenue
Twelve years ago, children living in the City of Sarasota’s Central-Cocoanut area “and fellow neighbors of the greater Newtown community started leading an annual celebration of the 1955 Beach Caravan, a powerful example of the forward-thinking, anti-racist leadership” of Newtown residents, a news release points out.
Now teenagers, the young people are planning to lead the caravan again this year, the release says. “All members of the broader Sarasota community are invited to participate.”
On Saturday, Sept. 24, beginning at 3 p.m., “neighborkids will lead a caravan to Lido Beach and share the story of the 1955 Beach Caravan as a way of celebrating and honoring the community’s significant civil rights history, and as a way of inspiring forward-thinking leadership and an end to racism today,” the release adds.
“Sixty-five years ago, Newtown neighbors made civil rights history when they introduced and championed the idea of fully integrated beaches in Sarasota County, and organized weekly car trips to Lido Beach, as a way of demonstrating that it was high time for all beaches in Sarasota County to be open to all people,” the release explains. “This happened before Rosa Parks’ actions led to the Montgomery bus boycott and before many people in the United States had heard of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” the release continues.
The Beach Caravan “established the community of Newtown in Sarasota as one of the earliest hot spots of civil rights activism, both in the state of Florida and in the broader region of the American South,” the release says.
“Neighborkids appreciate this history as one of their important discoveries about the special place that they have called home, and draw upon this history as inspiration for efforts that neighborkids are leading today in their neighborhoods and the broader Sarasota community,” the release adds.
As Raniyah Valdes said, “It brings everyone together!”
Further, Holly Schwartz created artwork in support of the initiative, noting that that the Beach Caravan “shows that people can get along and shake hands as equals,” the release notes.
This year, the caravan will begin as cars line up at the intersection of 20th Street and Central Avenue in Sarasota, the release points out. Participants will travel together to Lido Beach, which is located at 400 Ben Franklin Drive.
“Anyone interested in joining the caravan is welcome,” the release says. “Once at the beach, everyone will play, swim, and celebrate together. Kids need to bring a parent or other adult with them. Organizers will bring some food to share, and you are also encouraged to bring along your own picnic or money for the snack bar at Lido,” the release adds.
“There is no cost to participate,” the release notes, but organizers ask that the participants “plan to share stories about people in Newtown and the broader Sarasota community who are fighting against racism, championing civil and human rights, and making a difference like the leaders of the first Beach Caravan did back in 1955.”