top of page

African American Cultural Resource Center


Mrs. Lovette W. Harper

Founder of AACRC

Vision: The vision is for The African American Cultural Resource Center to be the premier venue for the study of African and African American Life, history and culture in the Sarasota/Manatee communities and beyond.

Mission: The African American Cultural Resource Center at Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library, Inc. (BJJNSPL) houses a special collection of books, periodicals, media, art, and artifacts pertinent to the Global Black Experience. Created by the Friends of BJJNSPL, Inc, it is a reading room and research facility with materials not only about African Americans but also about African people living in Africa and in many other parts of the world. There is a special section with information about the history of Newtown and African Americans in Florida. The African American Cultural Resource Center is available for use by students, scholars, historians, researchers, and other interested individuals in the larger community.


Dr. Cheryl A. Smith

DR. CHERYL A. SMITH is an author and researcher. She is a retired     Associate Professor from the School of Integrative and Experiential Studies and in the Graduate Schools of Arts and Social Sciences and of Education at Lesley University, located in Cambridge, MA. She earned her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. 


While at Lesley University, in addition to teaching at the Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral level, she was a member of the university’s Center for Academic Technology Advisory Committee,University wide and Departmental Curriculum committees and the Advanced Graduate Council which oversaw the doctoral program in Educational Studies. She was also a member of the Women’s Resource Group. 


She has served on boards in Sarasota, FL. including the Art Center Sarasota for 5 years and the Friends of the North Sarasota Public Library (NSPL) for 6. Three of those years were as board president. She was the co-chair of the African American Cultural Resource Center (AACRC) located in the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library since it’s inception in 2008. She most recently served as the Collections Manager of the reference and resource materials pertaining to the Global Black experience. 


After retirement, Dr. Smith taught classes she created at Pierian Spring Academy, a life longlearning center in Sarasota, FL. They included a short history of women entrepreneurs in the US entitled “If You Only Knew” and a memoir writing series “Got Stories?.” She is the editor of a book, A Tapestry Woven From Threads of Our Lives written by Advanced students in the memoir series and of a memoir by an African American artist Jacqueline Cully, An Artist’s Journey from Key West to Paris. She has also edited     several books from the advanced students in her class including “The Village As I Knew It Is no More” by Betty J. Johnson.


Her first book is Market Women: Black Woman Entrepreneurs Past Present and Future(2005). She has completed a second book titled “On Hallowed Ground: The Dunbar Complex in Harlem” about the National Landmark housing complex where she grew up. She continues to work with former students in their writing support group called “The Seat to Chair Club.”

The History of AACRC

bottom of page