Matthew Newton

Wofford College

Matthew is committed to addressing racial inequality at a systemic and structural level, to social justice, and to power-sharing and collaboration. He is actively involved in building the capacity of community-based organizations to implement evidence-based programs that build racial equity, working in the launch and management of a homebuyer assistance program and an entrepreneurial success program in Spartanburg’s Northside community. Now, through the relationships he's built, the knowledge he gained in a "Grassroots Organizing" January-term class, and his upcoming capstones in both his Environmental Studies and Government majors, Matthew has embarked on an ambitious project to better understand the structural racism that led to textile chemical dumping in the Arkwright community in Spartanburg, which caused widespread health problems for the Black and Brown people living there, and eventually led to Arkwright being named an EPA Superfund site, with millions spent to clean it up. Matthew is interviewing Arkwright residents about how they were impacted and whether and how they are still being impacted. He hopes to use what he finds to illuminate structural oppression in our recent past and in our present, in hopes of dismantling it as we move deeper into the 21st century.

Dr. Nayef Samhat
Wofford College

Personal Statement

At the Northside Development Group in Spartanburg, SC, I work as a financial stability navigator. I primarily manage two projects focused on homebuyer assistance and entrepreneurial success. I work to give access to homeownership to low income families and individuals, and to provide financial capital for minority entrepreneurs. These projects help build generational wealth stability in the low-income, primarily African-American community of the Northside.

For my Environmental Studies capstone project, I am interviewing current residents of the predominantly African-American, Arkwright community in Spartanburg about their sentiment towards a community revitalization effort that was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, after significant chemical dumping took place there during the 1990s. The revitalization effort was heralded as a major success, yet the Arkwright community remains one of the poorest communities in Spartanburg County, exhibiting high levels of racially concentrated poverty. My project is focused on amplifying the voices of residents, and at a more macro level, illuminating the structural racism that has impacted the community for decades.

Matthew Newton
Government and Environmental Studies: Class of 2021
written 2020

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