Please help save the former residence of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Camden, NJ.

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2 and a half years ago I learned of an incident that involved Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his first documented civil rights struggle and sit in, which happened in Maple Shade, NJ on June 12th of 1950.  Dr. King and his best friend, Walter McCall, were on their way to a church in Merchantville NJ with Pearl Smith and Doris Wilson when they decided to stop for something to eat. 

The proprietor told them to leave and they refused.  Dr. King knew that the NJ Constitution included a law against discrimination and verbally challenged the owner, who became irate when the group refused to leave.  The group had decided that they were going to preform a sit in and the owner ran to his apartment and grabbed a gun.  When he came back and pointed it at them they still refused to leave.  At this point the owner took one step outside and fired the pistol into the air, screaming "Ill kill for less".

King and his group left and went to the police station and the owner was later arrested.  The case was later thrown out at the grand jury and everyone walked away. 

The building where this happened was torn down in 2011, but I thought the event was important enough to be memorialized in some way, so I approached the town's council and proposed the idea.  The council though wanted some more proof that this in fact actually happened, and happened in their town.  About a month later I found the police complaint, signed by Dr. King himself, and now I had the evidence to get the memorial put in.

On the complaint was something very odd though, it listed Dr. King's address as 753 Walnut Street in Camden, NJ.  When I looked up the home on Google Earth it was boarded up and had a demolition sign on it.  I then went to the tax office to find out who owned the home and got the owners information.  Several days later I went by her house and knocked on her door with the president of the Camden NAACP, Kelly Francis. 

The woman who answered was Lily Hunt, who was 83 at the time I first met her.  The first words out of my mouth were "Did you know Martin Luther King" and she said "Yes, he used to live in my house on Walnut"....I almost hit the floor. 

Walter McCall was cousins with the Hunt's, who let him and King stay on and off during the almost 3 years they both attended Crozer Seminary School between 1948-1951.  These were some of his most formative years and I thought the home should be preserved, and about 2 months later, armed with several pieces of evidence, I filed to have the home placed in NJ's registry of historic places.  I was originally told the process would take 2-3 months, but it's now been over 2 years and they have not rendered a decision. 

They say that they somehow can't find enough significance attached to the home, nor the event in Maple Shade, to place the home on the registry.  It's mind boggling to me, and to many other, so we need your help. 

If you think the home and it's attachment to Dr. King should be placed on the Historic Registry, please sign the petition and share it on your social media accounts so others can sign. 

 

https://www.facebook.com/MLKinNJ/



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