Samuel (Sam) Walton was born on Dec. 13, 1948, to Symera and Joshua Walton, in Harlem and raised on 137th St. and 8th Avenue (also known as Frederick Douglass Blvd.). He died of a kidney infection at Mt. Sinai Hospital on Fifth Ave. on Feb. 21, 2012.
Sam’s life passion was documentary filmmaking and oral history of the Harlem community. He and his friend Sam Gaynor started a program called, “We Care for Self Help” in 1968 by young people who were mentored by Ken and Mamie Clark, directors of Northside Center for Child Development.
Its mission was to foster community solidarity by bridging the inter-generational divide among Harlem residents. Over the years, he renamed the incorporation, “We Care Media Arts” and partnered with Columbia University, through its internship program in film and oral history, to record the memories of Harlem’s local leaders and its older generation with Columbia film students.
His work includes a documentary celebrating the past 100 years of Crisis Magazine (2010); a documentary celebrating the work of Mamie and Ken Clark regarding Brown v. Board of Education (2004), a documentary honoring Ella Baker, civil rights leader (2000), and many wonderful interviews with Harlem’s elite leadership over the past 30 years.
Sam also worked for the New York City Human Resources Administration for over 30 years helping others attain housing, welfare and Medicare, but his passion and reason for existence was documentary filmmaking and oral history of his beloved community of Harlem — a craft he mastered so well.
He is survived by his loving wife Sonia, his son Songhai A. Walton of Fort Myers, Florida; two brothers, James Walton of Columbia, South Carolina and Joseph Walton of New York City; three nieces, one nephew and a host of very special family and friends.