The Film

Newell Quinton stands by the sign welcoming folks to the 200-year-old community.

SAVING SAN DOMINGO

Tom Horton grew up on the segregated Delmarva Peninsula in the 1950’s and 1960’s and thought he knew every creek and roadway and community in a 20-mile radius of his home. But on a bike ride nearly half a century later, he discovered San Domingo, a community of a few hundred people near the Nanticoke River in northwestern Wicomico county. There he met Newell Quinton, a man about his age who had returned to his hometown after a career in the military and Federal Government. Tom knew right then there was a story to be told but he didn’t know how rich and inspiring it would be until he began meeting the other Quintons.

And so began a new Bay Journal film, Saving San Domingo, by Horton, Dave Harp and Sandy Cannon-Brown.

Horton learned that San Domingo, founded in 1820, may be one of the oldest surviving black communities in the United States. The name and historic records suggest that its founding fathers were mariners who came from Haiti soon after the rebellion there that freed all slaves in 1804.

The schoolhouse, now a community center, was one of 5000 schools built in the South for African-American children by Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, in partnership with famed African-American educator Booker T. Washington. Newell and six siblings attended the school before it closed in 1957. They graduated from Morgan State, where two were arrested in 1963 for trying to go to a movie theater for whites only. The sisters, Alma and Barbara, later received honorary PhDs for their civil rights activism.

All the Quintons, including a seventh sibling who is deaf and attended another college, went on to impressive careers. In retirement, the Quintons decided to give back to the community and created the John Quinton Foundation in honor of their father who, with only a fourth-grade education, instilled the importance of education in his children. Newell came back to live in the community and is helping to regain the values, the culture and traditions, including making scrapple every winter.

Take a bike ride. You never know what you’ll discover.