In Memoriam: James E. Newton


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James E. Newton

James E. Newton

Photographs by OCM Pictures and courtesy of College Archives and Information Administration

Campus group remembers long-time college member, mentor and artist

James E. Newton, an award-winning artist, a frontrunner in Black American research and a revered mentor on the College of Delaware for greater than three many years, died on Might 24, 2022, simply days earlier than he was to be awarded an honorary diploma from the College. He was 80 years outdated.

“On behalf of your entire College group, I prolong our deepest condolences to James Newton’s household and mates and to the numerous alumni and colleagues whose lives he touched throughout his 33-year UD profession,” UD President Dennis Assanis stated. “As an early chief of the Black American Research Program, now the Division of Africana Research, Dr. Newton was a guiding power in advancing  variety, fairness and inclusion, which at this time is a key precedence of our establishment.  We’re all indebted to him.”

Dr. Newton joined the UD college in 1972 as an assistant professor of schooling, and the next yr he turned affiliate professor and director of the Black American Research Program.

Dr. Newton and President E.A. Trabant

Dr. Newton with UD President E.A. Trabant, in a 1990 picture

In his e-book The College of Delaware, A Historical past, John Munroe known as Dr. Newton, a “completely satisfied selection” to function one of many first leaders of the then fledgling program. The place earlier administrators had been unsuccessful, Munroe famous that, underneath Dr. Newton’s route, this system “acquired stability and respectability.”

Throughout his UD profession, Dr. Newton additionally chaired the College’s Fee to Promote Racial and Cultural Variety and and served as a member of the U.S. Fee on Civil Rights Delaware State Advisory Committee.

His many College honors included the Excellence in Educating Award, the Black Pupil Union College Award and an award for educating excellence from the Mortar Board honor society, amongst others.

Dr. Newton retired in 2005, after which continued to show as supplemental college till 2016.

"They Came Before Columbus II"

“They Got here Earlier than Columbus II,” an ink and acrylic work by Dr. Newton featured in a 2009 exhibition on campus.

In 2009, an exhibition of Dr. Newton’s art work was offered in Mechanical Corridor on the campus. Entitled “James Newton: The Artwork of Delineation,” the exhibit highlighted the strategies and pictures by means of which Dr. Newton addressed the themes of self, race and legacy from the Nineteen Sixties by means of 2008, tracing concepts that adopted him for greater than 4 many years of educating, artwork making and life.

The Division of Africana Research yearly offers the James E. Newton Pupil Award to a pupil majoring or minoring in Africana research who displays the qualities of excellence in group service and scholastic achievement embodied by Dr. Newton.

Earlier this yr, an settlement was reached with the College of Delaware Library, Museums and Press {that a} wealth of fabric that Dr. Newton had gathered all through his life – articles, leaflets, books and literature regarding the wrestle for social justice in Delaware and the struggles for change at UD – would develop into a part of the library’s assortment on behalf of the Division of Africana Research.

On Might 19, UD’s Board of Trustees voted to award Dr. Newton the College’s highest accolade, an honorary physician of humane letters diploma. This honor is reserved for people who replicate, of their private {and professional} achievements, the College’s mission and who function exemplars for UD’s college students, alumni, the College group and the world. Dr. Newton’s diploma can be offered to his household in a ceremony later this yr.

Dr. Newton at the African American Students of Distinction event in 2010

Dr. Newton delivers the keynote tackle on the 2010 African American College students of Distinction occasion, held in Clayton Corridor.

Remembering Dr. Newton

A lot of Dr. Newton’s colleagues and mates shared reminiscences of him.

The fixed star… “Dr. Newton fought to make Black American Research (BAMS) and its values discover a footing at UD, to coach the entire college students (white and Black) who went by means of UD. As anticipated, he paid particular consideration to Black college students. He was the fixed star to all these Black college students who walked by means of the corridors at UD and felt as in the event that they have been in a international unwelcoming land. Dr. Jim Newton was the information, teacher, the one in a position to decipher the mysteries of academia, the one who interceded on their behalf; the one who insisted that they needed to examine, work exhausting and excel even with all of the challenges. He remained dedicated to opening doorways at UD. He continued to problem UD to broaden the  hiring of African American college and employees and enrolment of scholars. There are literally thousands of college students unfold throughout this nation and past, who in a method or one other, sat on the ft of Dr. Jim Newton to be taught, tutored, guided, affirmed and knowledgeable…. He can be remembered by all of us whose lives he touched and made higher. He stays in our minds and, extra importantly, he stays in our hearts. On this approach, subsequently, Dr. Jim Newton nonetheless lives and he’ll all the time stay.”  – W.O. Maloba, chair and professor, Division of Africana Research, and Edward L. Ratledge Professor of Africana Research and Historical past


Dr. Newton with W.O. Maloba

Dr. Newton with W.O. Maloba at a reception in his honor held throughout Black Historical past Month in 2017. The occasion included the screening of a documentary about Dr. Newton’s art work.

Embrace excellence… “I used to be so lucky to have been in a position to share my academic {and professional} journey with Dr. James E. Newton for nearly 50 years. Beginning in my junior yr at UD, I took two Black American research lessons with Doc. He known as me to process when he felt I used to be not giving my greatest effort in one in every of his lessons. That was a particular wake-up name for me. I additionally knew that given his involvement locally, in addition to the truth that he had met my mom, it might not be shocking that he would run into her someplace and “occur to say” that I used to be pupil however might do extra.  It was as a result of he cared that he wished the very best. Along with his formal function as educator, he additionally assumed the function of mentor to scores of Black college students and professionals—demanding that no matter our place that we reject mediocrity and embrace excellence. Many will inform you that it was Dr. Newton who helped them navigate by means of the numerous challenges we confronted in our quest for that diploma. He was so excited when he discovered that I might be returning to campus years later, first as an assistant dean and later a seamless college member. I might run into him each on and off campus, and regardless of the place it was, he all the time had a ‘Newton gem’ to share with me. However even once we turned colleagues, I might/wouldn’t name him ‘Jim’—he was all the time ‘Doc.’As I thought of what Doc meant to many people, I centered on one in every of his items that I personal which was bought throughout a go to to his residence. It’s an artist proof known as ‘Chicken Sanctuary. The title appeared so applicable: A sanctuary is a protected area that gives safety from hazard or a tough scenario thereby selling the survival of these needing safety. Doc was very conscious of our want for ‘sanctuary’ as college students and workers making an attempt to co-exist in a spot that was not all the time welcoming or supportive of ‘completely different birds.’ Whether or not in his workplace, strolling throughout campus, sitting in his workplace or wherever locally, he would all the time hear and problem us to contemplate ‘the large image.’ He additionally all the time reminded us that regardless of the challenges, we have been to maintain our eyes on the prize whereas additionally embracing the significance of constructing and sustaining a way of ‘group.’ There are such a lot of individuals who have their very own Newton tales—however what all of them have in frequent was his worth as a caring, compassionate, educated and extremely revered educator, artist and man. — Norma Gaines-Hanks, retired affiliate professor of human growth and household sciences

Dr. Newton with Norma Gaines-Hanks

Dr. Newton with Norma Gaines-Hanks at a Black Alumni Homecoming reception in Mechanical Corridor in 2013.

Modified the College for the higher… “Jim Newton modified the College of Delaware for the higher. He was a extremely achieved artist, a inventive thinker and an award-winning engaged scholar. He was acknowledged on campus and within the wider group for his contributions to multicultural enrichment, civil rights and racial justice. He was a tireless advocate for the College to completely embody the values of variety, inclusion and academic fairness. He helped develop and led the Division of Black American Research, now Africana Research. As chair of the Fee to Promote Racial and Cultural Variety, he advocated quite a few adjustments to UD insurance policies and applications to extend pupil and college variety. His biggest affect was as a instructor and mentor. He was an excellent instructor and obtained the College’s Excellence in Educating award. He was a devoted college adviser for the Black Pupil Union. For greater than three many years, Black college students relied upon Professor Jim Newton as their trusted mentor and their always-available advocate and information to studying and success.” – Dan Wealthy, professor emeritus within the Biden Faculty and College provost from 2002-2009

Dr. Newton

Dr. Newton in a 2003 picture

Mentor to generations of scholars… “James Newton was a formidable presence on the College of Delaware’s campus. He was a scholar, colleague, good friend and mentor to generations of scholars on the College. He was an inspiration to African-American and different college students of shade who have been typically remoted in UD’s pupil inhabitants. Dr. Newton led what’s now the Division of Africana Research. He fought to safe the popularity of Black research at a time when many within the increased schooling institution have been skeptical of the tutorial legitimacy of such applications. A few years elapsed earlier than this system achieved division standing as what’s now Africana research. This might not have occurred with out Dr. Newton’s tireless efforts. He can be missed. — Leland Ware, Louis L. Redding Professor of Legislation and Public Coverage

His impression is immeasurable… “Dr. Jim Newton’s impression on the College—its college students, college, and employees—is immeasurable. As each a mentor and a colleague, he strongly supported the work of these of us advocating for a extra simply establishment. Personally, he helped information me at an early stage of my profession and was all the time a powerful supporter. The College has been left a greater place due to his presence. — Margaret Andersen, Rosenberg Professor Emerita of Sociology

An anchor for Black life at UD… “Jim Newton was an anchor for Black life at UD for over 35 years. He was devoted to his college students, his colleagues, his artwork and his group. He was sensible and was all the time desperate to share his knowledge with those that would hear. He gave generously of his time and expertise and, all the time, centered excellence and alternative on the forefront of his life’s work. I used to be honored to proceed his legacy with Black American Research and owe Jim a lot for holding that area with dignity and honor for therefore lengthy.” – James M. Jones, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychological and Mind Sciences and Africana Research

One of the modest males I’ve ever met… “My friendship with Dr. James Newton had so many layers: our love for historical past, sports activities and most of all of the individuals in our environment. He had true understanding of teamwork. He was some of the modest males I’ve ever met. The examples of his modesty have been so many. He not often talked about his accomplishments as an artist, scholar and athlete. Few individuals knew that his faculty monitor coach at North Carolina Central College was Dr. LeRoy Walker, previous president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, or that he was the primary Black pupil to earn an MFA on the College of North Carolina. He was really a pioneer and set the bar for us all. He confirmed me the true that means of modesty by means of his actions. At his current funeral service, I noticed his dwelling legacy in a number of public college academics who had taken the summer time Black historical past lessons he taught for academics. – Ron Whittington, retired College administrator who now teaches within the Honors Faculty

Dr. Newton and Ron Whittington

Dr. Newton and Ron Whittington on the 2017 reception.

UD alumnus and former trustee Tony Allen, who’s now president of Delaware State College, paid tribute to Dr. Newton in an opinion piece posted on Delawareonline. He recounted the significance of Dr. Newton’s mentorship in his personal life, in addition to that of many different Blue Hens.

Allen wrote that Dr. Newton “typically spoke of the significance of Black excellence as a bridge to the long run. He reminded us that simply as Dubois, Booker T., Tubman, Malcolm, Martin, Fannie Lou and Redding had stood within the hole for us, we, too, had that duty for others. He anticipated super comprehension of the tutorial materials and much more from us as rising younger Black residents. It was as if he knew that trials would come early and sometimes on the establishment. So, he taught uncompromising decorum and coached articulate responses to abuse of energy … and Black Delight, all the time Black Delight.”

About James E. Newton

Born in Bridgeton, New Jersey, James E. Newton earned his bachelor’s diploma in artwork and German from North Carolina Central College and his grasp of wonderful arts diploma from the College of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the place he was the primary African American to obtain an MFA. He obtained his doctorate in curriculum growth in Black research and schooling from Illinois State College.

Dr. James Newton

Dr. Newton in a 1989 picture

He was the creator of a number of books, together with the The Ideas of Variety: Handbook for a Variety-Pleasant America  and A Curriculum Analysis of Pupil Data of Afro-American Life and Historical past, he coedited The Different Slaves: Mechanics, Artisans and Craftsmen. He additionally was the creator of quite a few articles on multicultural schooling, African American artwork and variety. He was inducted into the Nationwide Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.

Anctive locally, Dr. Newton served on the board of many organizations, together with the Walnut Avenue YMCA, Delaware State Arts Council, Delaware Artwork Museum, The Tatnall Faculty, Public Allies and others. He was additionally a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity for greater than 50 years.

In 2012, he obtained the James H. Gilliam Sr. Chairman’s Award from the Metropolitan Wilmington City League, which acknowledges pioneers for excellent contributions and management within the battle for civil rights and a extra equal and inclusive America.

Dr. Newton is survived by his spouse of 54 years, LaWanda; his daughters, Regina, Walidah and KaWansi; grandchildren Sean, Imevar, Nahlia, Isis and Indigo; siblings Charles, George, Mary, Margaret, Katherine, Ann, and Jeffrey; and a number of nieces, nephews, cousins and mates.

To learn his obituary or go away on-line condolences, go to Evan W. Smith Funeral Companies.


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