Montclair’s “Mother Hinton” valued the community’s spirit, wisdom and wealth
By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
One of the many fond memories Marylin Hinton Jacobs has of her late mother, Myrna Owens Hinton, concerns a necklace.
Myrna Hinton gifted the necklace to her daughter for her 18th birthday, and Jacobs still wears it proudly around her neck. He has a pendant with three small diamonds. Jacobs said diamonds represent wisdom, wit, and wealth.
“I carry it in memory of her now, but it’s something I realized – that she didn’t just leave it for me,” Jacobs said. “She left it for everyone to understand the power of wisdom, the power of the spirit, and the power of wealth. And I’m not just talking about financial wealth.
Jacobs said those three words meant a lot to his mother.
Montclair seeks to increase $ 230,000 donors, members and donors between October 1 and December 31 to put us on a solid footing for 2022 and continue to support the hard work of our journalists into the New Year and beyond. Visit MontclairLocal.news/donations to see how we are doing and to make your contribution.
“From my mother’s perspective, wisdom is exactly what it is, and the ability to know the truth. Also, the ability to learn and seek knowledge, ”said Jacobs. “She was always on the hunt for knowledge, even at 88 years old. Spirit, my mom had a keen sense of humor and her laughter was amazing. And wealth doesn’t just mean seeking material wealth, but it’s deeper than that. It is the unlimited wealth of resources of a community. Unlimited wealth of knowledge and a sense of belonging.
Myrna Hinton died on October 8 at the age of 88.
Keith Ali Hinton, another of Myrna Hinton’s children, thought back to the summer of 1967. Her mother was then working in Newark as a nurse. Because she couldn’t find a babysitter for her children, she took them to work. The Newark riots were happening that summer.
“She had to go through the National Guard,” Keith Hinton said. “And the guard was, of course, stuffing his guns into the car and telling him this and that. But she showed her credentials and said [the Guard] who she was, and they let her pass.
Myrna Hinton was dedicated to helping people and brave enough to keep doing it even at the risk of herself, her son said.
“She gave us the kind of courage we know she had. We knew we were supporting her and she was supporting us, ”Keith said.
Myrna Hinton has held several roles throughout her life. According to her obituary, she had been a registered nurse for over 65 years. She worked as a public health nurse before becoming executive director of family planning in Essex and Middlesex counties. She also worked as a nurse for the Department of Children Families Regional School in Newark.
Jacobs said nursing was initially a goal for his mother; it has become a passion. After graduating from high school, Myrna Hinton initially planned to become an undertaker, but her father was not happy with that choice and she changed her plans, Jacobs said.
Myrna Hinton went to Jersey City Medical Center School of Nursing to graduate in 1951. She first applied to Mountainside Hospital School of Nursing, but was turned down because she was African American, said her daughter. Jacobs said that was the reason Myrna Hinton devoted so much time and dedication to nursing.
“She went above and beyond the expectations of families who needed medical care. I called his friends until about two months ago to ask if they had taken their medication, ”Jacobs said. “And even with her nursing license, the last time she was about to expire [when Myrna Hinton was 83], I actually had to stop telling him.
Keith Hinton remembers once someone passed out in his neighborhood, having a seizure. The neighbors were shouting Myrna Hinton’s name to come and help the man.
“It would be common in our block,” said Keith Hinton. “If anything happened to anyone, my mother would be wanted for medical attention or to help her get better medical care. ”
He said his mother cared about the community and drew courage from her faith.
Myrna Hinton was a member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church her entire life, following in the footsteps of her father, Richard L. Owens Sr., who joined the church in 1929. She was a lay lecturer, had been in the Young Adult Choir, had been Director and President of the Gospel Choir, had been President of the Chancel Choir, had served on the Pastor Parish Relations and Agape Fellowship Committees, and had served as President of the United Methodist Women.
Roger Terry, president of the Montclair branch of the NAACP, remembers meeting Myrna Hinton and her family in the 1960s at St. Mark’s Church, which was the hub of the branch at the time.
“So not only were they connected in the community, but they were strong on civil rights. They were strong in changing different laws in the community and helping young African Americans, and all people, in the community, ”said Terry.
Jacobs said his mother was also involved in civil rights advocacy from an early age. She was president of the Montclair chapter of the National Council of Black Women, an organization founded in 1935 in Harlem to unite African-American women in social planning and action.
Jacobs said Myrna Hinton got involved with the organization because Myrna Hinton’s grandmother loved Mary McLeod Bethune, the founder of the National Council of Black Women.
“Bethune came to Montclair for a visit and my mother met her when she was a child,” Jacobs said. “I know this inspired her to get involved with the National Council of Black Women.”
Myna Hinton was often referred to as “Mother Hinton” in Montclair, part of a group of parents who helped shape future generations.
“[Myrna Hinton] was a strong person. She had carte blanche to correct any young person in the community, in any of our groups. She was therefore highly respected. You knew it was important not to go out of line, ”said Terry. “She didn’t have to say a word, but when our eyes met I knew I had a strong spiritual person who was there to help me.”
Myrna Hinton was also a doula who helped deliver 98 babies while she was a nurse at a community hospital.
“What happened was the doctors wouldn’t be there. It’s in the 1950s, ”Jacobs said. “The doctors were like, ‘Is Hinton here?’ and they told her to get ready for the birth and it happened so often it was like, “Let Hinton deliver the baby.”
In recent years, Myrna Hinton has become an active member of the Do Drop Inn of the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, a senior social group that meets at the Wally Choice Community Center in Glenfield Park three times a week.
Hinton was also honored as grand marshal at the 2021 Montclair African American Heritage Parade.
“This community had an exceptionally strong African American community and they were the cause of it. Mothers, fathers, grandparents – they all stayed together, ”said Terry. “They made sure there was nowhere we could go in town [without someone asking] “Are you not Terry?” Or “Aren’t you a Hinton?” You were well known throughout the community, regardless of the circumstances.
City Councilor David Cummings, a longtime resident who serves the Fourth Ward, said Hinton knows you, even if you didn’t, “because she cared about everyone” and was involved in everything. that was happening in the community.
“I know her children are feeling deep loss. Montclair has lost a fighter for people, a guardian for children and adults. There’s a reason she was called ‘Mother Hinton’, ”he said. “She will be missed.”
Jacobs and Keith Hinton said they were grateful for the support they received from the community and for those who recognized their mother’s legacy.
“First of all, our sincere thanks for all this love, support and recognition. Second, the legacy of someone like Myrna Owens Hinton must continue, ”said Jacobs. “And in that legacy, as it was said in his eulogy, a connector. We need to network. We must embrace each other. We must be the bridge in our own community.