The unique performance shared a message of tolerance and respect for all people, regardless of their differences.
Everyone was on their feet by the end. Some cheered, some danced, some just stood and smiled — but as the last song came to a close, everyone in the crowd held their neighbor’s hands high above their heads in solidarity.
“We Are Sarasota” is a partnership performance performed by members of the Sarasota County Bar Association Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and Booker High School VPA that took place April 30 at Sarasota Opera House. First conceived and performed to a sold-out crowd in 2012, this unique celebration of diversity again utilized song, dance and spoken word to tell the story of how 1950s segregated Sarasota become the multicultural community it is today through changes in the law.
Moving through the decades, speakers explain local and national cases and civil rights protests that have helped move Sarasota and the United States in a more inclusive direction. Spoken word pieces highlighted civil rights movements led by members of African-American, Latino, LGBTQ, Jewish, disabled, female, elderly and student communities.
Organizers said it was time to bring back the inspiring show because of the divisive times the country and thus the city are facing in the current political climate. This time around, the partnership strengthened its educational outreach, sending volunteer lawyers and judges to Sarasota County schools the weeks prior to the performance to teach civil rights history and encourage students to be inclusive.
Thanks to free busing and admission covered by Embracing Our Differences and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County respectively, 600 students attended the event free of charge.