Educational Materials on the African American history of Sarasota

Sarasota’s Second African American Cemetery

Produced by New College students for Elementary School Children


African Americans People whose families came to America from Africa

European Americans - People whose families came to America from Europe

prejudice - when someone judges you based on something you cannot control before they meet you

segregated when people are separated based on the color of their skin


Sarasota History

Sarasota, Florida was founded in 1886.  Then, the United States was segregated. African Americans and European Americans could not shop at the same stores.  African Americans are people whose families came to America from Africa.  European Americans are people whose families came to America from Europe.  They could not use the same bathrooms.  They could not use the same water fountains.  There was two of everything. 

Segregation was a hard time for African Americans. Their lives were filled with struggles.  Their children could not go to good schools.  It was hard to find a job.  They could not shop at the stores in Sarasota.  They had to go to Tampa just to buy groceries!  They could not swim at the local beach.  They had to drive over an hour to Venice.  That was the African American beach. 

Beach segregation challenged
Why was life so hard for African Americans? Why was Sarasota segregated?  The reason was prejudice.  Prejudice is when someone judges you before they meet you based on something you cannot control.  They might judge you because of your gender or skin color.  The African Americans of Sarasota were judged because of their skin color.

African Americans did not accept prejudice without a fight.  Many of them fought against segregation laws.  They tried to make life better for their families.

 Galilee Cemetery

At first, Sarasota only had one cemetery. It was called Rosemary Cemetery. Like stores, cemeteries were segregated.  Only European Americans could use it.  There were some exceptions.  Two African Americans are buried there (the Colsons, pictured above).  They were important to the city’s history. Where were other African Americans buried?

The first cemetery for African Americans is called Woodlawn/Oaklawn, probably because the property originally had two burial grounds that merged into one. In 1935, Sarasota opened another cemetery for African Americans. It was called Galilee Cemetery. Galilee Cemetery is important. Many people are buried there.  Each one lived an important life. Some lived in Sarasota when it was segregated. 

Problems at Galilee

Galilee ViewGalilee Cemetery was used for many years.  It got very crowded. It was hard to know where people were buried. Some people may have been buried over others. That was a big problem. It meant that the people buried long ago were not being respected. In 2010, the cemetery closed to new burials. That way, no more older burial were bothered.  No people are being buried there now. 

It is important to find out where everyone is buried. That way the older burials are left alone and respected. After we know where everyone is buried the cemetery will be open again. But how do we learn that? Archaeology is one way. Not all archaeology means digging, and the archaeology done at Galilee Cemetery doesn’t use shovels. It only uses good observation skills, pencils, and paper!


Think about it!

1. Not many people think about Galilee Cemetery when they think about Sarasota history.  Why do you think only certain things are remembered?

2.  What sort of things do you remember about the past? What sort of things do you usually forget? How do you remember?

3.  If you could learn more about anyone in Sarasota's history, who would it be? Why would you choose them? 

For a Teacher's Journal

For an Elementary School Student's Journal