Collaboration of Sarasota County Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Westcoast Black Theatre, and Booker High School to explore role of law in social change

SARASOTA, FL - The Sarasota County Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, and Booker High School are bringing back the powerful "We Are Sarasota" program on Monday, April 30, 2018, at 7 p.m. at the Sarasota Opera House (61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota). "We Are Sarasota" is the soul-stirring story of Sarasota’s journey from the segregated 1950s to the rich, multicultural community that it is today. 

Starring WBTT artists, including founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs, Booker High School VPA students, and Sarasota’s own judges, lawyers and community activists, the performance will entertain and educate through courtroom drama, song and dance. It will include a dramatic interpretation of Sarasota’s own lunch counter boycott by Booker’s VPA students.  It will also feature representatives from numerous area nonprofits, who will highlight the battle for fair and equal treatment through the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX, marriage equality, women’s and immigrants’ issues, and more.

"WBTT is thrilled to, once again, present this program to an audience made up of all ages and races, from throughout Sarasota County," said Jacobs. "The performance will feature music from various points in time - for example, gospel music in the 1950s, civil rights anthems from the 1960s - as it explores the legal cases that impacted the rights of African Americans across the country as well as right here at home."

"We Are Sarasota" was last performed in 2012 to a sold-out audience. This year's program was written, directed and produced by Judge Charles E. Williams, Charlie Ann Syprett, and Jacobs. Proceeds from the event will benefit all three event partners. 

"While recent protests have certainly brought to light the power of peaceful demonstration and engagement of elected officials by the constituents they serve, people may not realize that every single significant social transformation in our society has been the result of decisions made in courts of law," said Syprett, who serves as the committee chair of the Sarasota Bar Association Diversity & Inclusion Committee. "Today's students need to know the legal history behind major social changes; being able to demonstrate changes in our own community makes the experience that much more powerful and relevant."

In the months prior to the performance, volunteer lawyers visited hundreds of students at all area high schools and two middle schools to teach national and local civil rights history. 

Presenting sponsor is Morgan & Morgan. Approximately 620 students will attend the performance free of charge through the support of the Community Foundation of Sarasota and other generous donors; transportation for children without a way to get to the event is being sponsored by Embracing Our Differences. 

The VIP reception and performance will be attended by the president, Michael Higer, and president-elect, Michelle Suskauer, of the Florida Bar Association. As the local Diversity & Inclusion Committee is reportedly considered the "gold standard" for the state, Bar Association leaders are hoping to bring this event - or something similar - to each county in Florida. 

Tickets, which are $75, are available at, “News & Events”; contact Charlie Ann Syprett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at or call (941) 366-1505.