How does one understand that they have stronger calling? Lean into the good. That is what Sallie B. Austin did. She found the good and exaggerated it.
When Sallie B. Austin was home, her door was always unlocked. If somebody needed help or a place to stay, they could walk right in and she’d be waiting with open arms and good dialogue.
As a youth, Dr. Robert J. Austin remembers a local woman often spending the night in their Newark home to get away from her abusive and volatile relationship. Sallie provided her with a safe space whenever she needed it and was the first one to stand up for her when the opportunity arose.
Sallie had a passion for giving back to her community and helping those in need. She was a frequent visitor of the local supermarket buying groceries for families that couldn’t afford them or a mother down the block that had several children to feed.
“My mom was a giver,” Robert, who is Sallie’s only child, said. “She always gave to people that didn’t have very much. She would always tell me that when you give, you’re killing selfishness. She taught strong lessons that last a lifetime.”
Sallie passed away at the age of 74 on Jan. 6, 2021. She was a staple of the Newark community and lived in the city since she was 19 years old. She raised Robert in Newark and eagerly watched the way the city has grown since she first arrived in the early 1960s.
“She was very proud of this city and very proud of Mayor Baraka because she knew his father,” Robert said. “She often told me that I was a Newark son and that Ras Baraka was a Newark son. She said that this city belongs to us.” As a mother, Sallie often prayed to live long enough to see her son turn 18 years old. She lived long enough to not only see her son turn 18, but become a success as well.
“She told me that at a dinner party,” Robert remembered. “I was so blessed and happy to hear that. One of the things that gives me a little bit of solace in my mom’s passing is that I think she knows that I’m going to be just fine. She had a complete impact on me and I would not be who I am without her.”
Over $1,000 was donated to United Community Corporation in Sallie B. Austin’s memory with donations coming from over 10 different people.
“If she knew how much money was being donated in her honor, she’d say, ‘They’re giving that for me?’” Robert said with a laugh. “But she would also say, ‘Wow, a lot of people are going to blessed because of this.’”
Thank you Sallie B. Austin for your generosity and commitment to making our community a better place to live.