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November 1, 2012

We Are Sarasota performance/Cliff Roles Photography
WE ARE SARASOTA told the story of Sarasota’s diversity through a combination of court decisions, multimedia, song, and dance. The event was conceived by the Sarasota County Bar’s Diversity Committee and led by Charlie Ann Syprett and Circuit Judge Charles Williams as a way to communicate the benefits of inclusion to students and the community. The committee enlisted the help of the local judges and partnered with the West Coast Black Theatre Troupe and Booker High School, once an all-black high school known for its visual and performing arts program. Using three landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the program took the more than 1,100 people in the audience on a journey from a segregated Sarasota to the growing multicultural and diverse community it is today. Narrator Judge Rick Defuria began with the 1857 case Dred Scott v. Sanford, involving a slave fighting for freedom, leading the court to declare that all blacks, whether slaves or free, could not be considered U.S. citizens. Forty years later, in Plessey v. Ferguson, the court upheld the idea of segregation and separate-but-equal policies which stood until the ground-breaking 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education. Judges, attorneys, and community leaders took turns telling brief stories about these cases and others.

[Revised: 10-17-2014]