Tag Archive: Martin Luther King

MLK slept here: Will this boarded-up rowhouse become a hotspot of activism?

MLK slept here, Camden NJ
The young Martin Luther King slept here, in a back bedroom. Photo: Emma Lee

At 753 Walnut St. in Camden, there’s a house bordered by a weed-choked vacant lot. Its windows and door are boarded up; the only way in is to stand on a plastic milk crate and hoist your way in through a first-floor opening, maybe risking splinters. There are more boarded up houses than anybody in Camden is comfortable with, but this one is different, and it got a lot of attention this week. It seems Martin Luther King, Jr. slept there – lived there – in the late 1940s and early 1950s while he was a seminary student, and becoming the man he was to be.

Patrick Duff of Moorestown, N.J. wants to see this house become a headquarters for civil rights information and activism. I love the idea of this; Camden deserves a place like that, a place of community discussion, organizing and planning, a place connected to history by learning, by Dr. King’s education.

The house is also connected to a 1950 incident in a nearby Maple Shade bar that may have focused King’s life. King stopped in with three friends for a drink, to be turned away and threatened with a gun fired at the ceiling. And it’s how Duff found the house; the address was listed in a criminal complaint King fired against the bartender.  

Wrecking Ball: Goodbye to the first African American Catholic Church in Newark

I’m not remotely religious and I will take crap from some of my atheist/agnostic/humanist friends for this. But I shed a tear this morning for a church I never once in my life set foot in, that nobody I know (that I’m sure of) attends as a parishioner. Queen of Angels Parish church, now stripped of its pews, stained glass windows and even the votive candle holder, will be torn down soon.

I knew as soon as I saw the headline that if I dove down into the prose I would find some connection to Newark’s elders and the civil rights movement. I had to dive pretty far down to find this:

ICYMI: Cory Booker on MTP (video)

debate_0808_669Cory Booker was on Meet the Press Sunday, following his speech at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

For the most part, Booker spoke in broad themes, not entirely inconsistent with the tone of the program, where tenets of Martin Luther King’s March on Washington speech were examined by Rep. John Lewis and MLK III. But after a discussion of vast income inequality as the ‘lasting legacy of a dream unfulfilled,’ host David Gregory tried to bring discussion of poverty to the realities of the city Booker governs, and its 13-plus% unemployment rate. Why has he not been able to make progress? Booker shifted the discussion back to broad theme – “love multiplies and hate divides” – and credited cooperation with Chris Christie for what he says is the largest economic development period in Newark in a generation. Unprobed by Gregory was the question of why that hasn’t translated to new jobs for Newark people (or hasn’t yet), or the fact that our statewide jobless rate has been consistently high under Booker’s partner Christie, particularly compared to the states surrounding New Jersey.

Also unexplored by Gregory was the Christie connection in Booker’s next topic, the expensive and ineffective mass incarceration, which Booker says he has a program to deal with. But we know one of the big reasons for the prison boom is prison privatization and the opportunities for tycoons to make money by expanding. Some of those tycoons are the people who put Christie in power, like his best friend Bill Palatucci who until recently oversaw New Jersey’s problematic privatized halfway house system. Ah, but we were talking big themes and Kumbaya with Christie, not nasty old facts.

That said, the simple reality is that somebody like David Gregory is going to be more interested in broader themes, the newspeak of ‘bipartisanship’ and King’s legacy than in how things actually are here in Cory Booker’s launching pad city and state. And so it goes. Besides, the alternative is not only unthinkable, but ridiculous. And so, next up today is video of Booker’s opponent Steve “Charm Offensive” Lonegan, on UP with Steve Kornacki. [coming at 2:43pm]

Video after the jump.  

Gov. Chris Christie Calls a Black Man “Boy” in Paterson, NJ

This week, Governor Chris Christie let his famous command of his own image slip and said something to an African-American man – in a church in Paterson – that we have not heard in many, many years in New Jersey. In America.

FYI: Exchange between Christie and the man, in the video above, is from NJTV’s NJ Today with Mike Schneider [March 12, 2013]. Here is the full broadcast. Exchange appears in two places; starting the show (:01-:08) and at 4:28.