Tag Archive: civil rights

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.  

Where Peace and Civil Rights Meet in New Jersey

The connection between the military and repression of civil rights is a theme that New Jersey Peace Action (NJPA) has been exploring since its founding in 1957 as New Jersey SANE. NJPA’s local “Move the Money” campaign to re-direct at least 25% of the money in the military budget to peaceful needs of communities, joined with national efforts several years ago.  

The money we need desperately for schools, jobs creation, health care, infrastructure repair and more should be taken from the overblown military budget of between $650 billion and $750 billion.

TONIGHT in Princeton: A Conversation with Rush Holt

ACLU-NJ: Conversation with Rep. Rush Holt, Scientist & Civil Libertarian

When: Tonight 7pm

Where: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton

50 Cherry Hill Road in Princeton

Rush Holt is my old boss; I’m a vet of his campaign staff. We lost Holt as our representative when Hunterdon was redistricted into CD7 and Leonard Lance territory; a distinct step down. But he’s still my hero. Here are 3 things I find encouraging about him:

1) He was always more interested in the word “representative” than in the word “congressman.” That is, more compelled by his responsibilities to those he represented than any title referring to himself as a member of Congress. If that sounds pretty Boy Scout of him, then that’s exactly it. He has been a straight arrow as long as I’ve known him.

2) Rush is a good-government crusader in the best of ways. A leader in all kinds of civil rights and civil liberties issues, which include voting rights, protecting civil liberties in the face of NSA spying, and the First Amendment.

3) Brains. Straight up. I remember when we launched the My Congressman IS a rocket scientist bumper sticker, and started getting requests for them not only from District and Jersey, but from college campuses and other places where education and science are prized. I’ve seen those stickers – in Rush Holt green, black and white – in several states. But if anyone gets the idea that Holt’s smarts are highfalutin’ or ivory tower-removed, get over it. The guy’s a 5-time Jeopardy winner, and the only dude I know of ever to beat IBM’s Watson supercomputer. But he’s far less interested in his own intelligence than in other people’s educational opportunities, and in what science research can make available to the world.

My Congressman IS a Rocket Scientist

Vote By Mail Is Here! Don’t Delay!

Over the past year the state government has spent a lot of money on a lot of really, really dumb ideas while citizens in need go wanting for things that, if ever implemented, would make our state a better place. Christie is spending millions of our tax dollars on state-funded lawyers to issue bogus reports exonerating him from his administration’s well-documented wrongdoings. His appointed bulldog/tyrant Cami Anderson is obliterating public education in Newark. Public sector industries continue to be purposefully strangled by an administration that values the lives and futures of wealthy supporters over the needs of the people. Our cities continue to deteriorate, drowning under waves of poverty, unemployment and crime. This problem in particular has gotten so bad that the mayors of most of the state’s cities have now created their own sort of de facto regional government to tackle it.

To add insult to injury, the Republican-led House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. continues to thwart all progressive ideas while purposefully bogging down the Obama Administration in ridiculous investigations like Benghazi and the like. Over the past two years House Republicans have continued their war on the Middle and Working Classes, declining to pass a minimum wage hike, refusing to extend unemployment benefits, and repeatedly attempting to destroy Obamacare. And Obamacare isn’t even that good anyway!

So my fellow progressives, it’s the Fall. It’s almost election time. It’s time to step up and vote. Yes, it’s a cliché, but this year you might not know that something is different. It’s been around for a few years now, but it’s not being advertised or promoted by our state government, as it should. In New Jersey, voters no longer need to bother with the logistical inconvenience of going to the polls. Every voter is entitled to vote by mail.

Gone are the days when voters who sought to attain an absentee ballot had to fill out an onerous form, justify their absence and send it in. A few years ago the Legislature overhauled this system by approving a streamlined application, easily available online, that takes three minutes to fill out and send in.

My wife and I have already done this in the past few elections, and it was easy-peasy. The ballots arrived weeks before the election; we filled them out and dropped them into the mail. We voted. For some reason, some ballots came with postage while others did not. I guess it depends on county funding for that, but no matter. We’ve all got stamps.

To do this for every election, one only needs to fill out an application once for all upcoming November polls.

All instructions, and a downloadable form, are available online from the NJ Department of State. Here is the link:


Do it. It’s so damn easy. No more going to the polls. No more waiting in line, or looking for parking, to trying to find a ride, or worrying about a cold November downpour. You get the ballot mailed to you, you fill it out and seal it, you put in any mailbox, and it’s done. Do it. It matters.  

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: