Rosalyn Howard


The "Looking for Angola" project (LFA) commenced on December 12, 2004 when shovels broke ground on the south side of the Manatee River at the point where it meets the Braden River. Based upon historical research, this area is believed to be the former location of Angola. Historian John Lee Williams referred to it as "Negro Point,"1 but in a land claim document filed by two Cuban fishermen it was labeled "Angola."2 The groundbreaking marked the realization of Project Director Vickie Oldham's wish to relate the story of early African American settlers in the Tampa Bay-Sarasota area of Florida. While conducting a documentary project about Sarasota in 2003, Oldham was surprised to learn that the general public's perception was that African Americans had not resided in that area until the post-Civil War era. She knew, however, that historian Canter Brown, Jr's publications placed them there much earlier. Oldham had read Brown's seminal research on this topic, which documented the existence of a "maroon" community called Angola (Sarrazota) in that region from 1812 to 1821.3