Marion Newton's journey from his rural roots in South Carolina to the opportunities of New York mirrors the journeys of Africans and African-Americans who survived the slave trade, and later forms of oppression, in pursuit of freedom and respect.
Often, such are the rites of passage for people who encounter spirituality or an awakening that molds their cultural beliefs. Few, perhaps, take credit for their bravery, and still fewer are ever rewarded.
Memorabilia from these journeys, some captured in imagery, others faded from memory, helps educate the very people whose past it encapsulates. But like one of Newton's personal heroes, Harriet Tubman of the Underground Railroad, he does not desire a personal reward for his collection of memories.
"I Take No Reward For My Journey" is the title of Newton's collection of history and pride, on exhibit at the New Beginnings Cultural Center Museum in St. Albans.
Newton began what would become a career as an artist and historian by building figures and models from kits as a child, putting into three dimensions his favorite movie, TV, and comic book characters.
As he grew older and visited his maternal grandmother's home in South Carolina, his craft developed into a deeper interest in his culture, and his search unearthed a treasure chest of artifacts, including original documents depicting the sale of human beings, as well as the actual shackles that bound them.
Deep into his journey, Newton's doctor informed him he was suffering from a ruptured gall bladder.
During a routine operation to repair it, his lung collapsed, causing a severe case of pneumonia. A day later, his other lung collapsed, and the doctors gave him three days to live.
During those three days, Newton stayed awake and prayed.
©2000 Community News Group
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