Sarasota civil rights leaders offer guidance to those fighting for fairness

History has a way of repeating itself.

"I made not only my voice, but my presence be part of the struggle," said Fredd Atkins.

More than 50 years ago, Sarasota resident and former city commissioner and Mayor Fredd Atkins became part of the Civil Rights Movement. He fought for the right to eat at any restaurant, go to any school, and be an equal member of society.

"We had a reprieve when we came through our cycle of the 60s and the early 70s and protests but, in the end, we got complacent and thought people are going to be fair," he said.

Now he watches as the next generation fight to be treated fairly by those in authority. Atkins said decades of injustice -- and the wanting to be given the same opportunities -- has boiled over.

"They are so frustrated and I understand their frustration," he said.

The rights of every man: Timeless lessons in Kennedy speech on civil rights

He's not alone.

"The more things change, the more they remain the same," said Willie Shaw.

Saturday night, as protesters took to the streets across the country, Sarasota City Commissioner WIllie Shaw joined a peaceful protest in Sarasota.

"Each community is different. We are dealing with systemic racism," he said.

Shaw has broken through those barriers. He became a leader in his community and an example to hose now on the front of the protest.

"It gave me an opportunity to speak to some of the younger who at one point said let’s burn that down, really you don’t want to do that because I have people of color who work there. That’s their livelihood," he said.

He is leading from example and following a message that continues to remain the same.

"Let's do it together, let’s come together," Shaw said.