In Fall 2019 The Ringling partnered with Newtown Alive! to present three special Collecting Recollections oral history programs with Mrs. Odessa Butler, Sheila Sanders, and Shelia Atkins. Recorded in front of a live audience in the Historic Asolo Theater at The Ringling, watch these programs conducted by Vickie Oldham, founder and CEO of Newtown Alive!
Left to right: Vickie Oldham, Founder and CEO Newtown Alive! with Collecting Recollections speakers Shelia Atkins, Sheila Sanders, and Mrs. Odessa Butler.
Mrs. Odessa Butler - October 29, 2019
Mrs. Odessa Butler was one of the pioneers of beach integration in Sarasota. As a teenager, she was part of the caravan of civil rights activists who helped protest the segregation of Lido Key by holding “wade-ins” on the beaches there.
Sheila Sanders - November 12, 2019
Sheila Sanders, a lifelong Sarasota resident, has been dedicated to making the city a better place since she was a child. As a third grader at Booker Elementary School, she organized a protest of Sarasota Federal Bank. As a teenager, she was a proactive participant in the work of the NAACP.
Shelia Atkins - November 29, 2019
Shelia Cassundra Hammond Atkins was born in Manatee County in 1952, but grew up in Newtown. Her mother Delma Hammond was a cook in the Caples Mansion where the little girl scampered when allowed. Her father, John Hammond was a butler. The Hammond family lived in the carriage house on the grounds situated along Sarasota Bay. Atkins attended high school during integration and has lived in Sarasota for over six decades. She and her husband, former Sarasota Mayor Fredd Atkins, are active members of the community.
Find more Collecting Recollections programs on The Ringling's Youtube Channel