TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Jim Beach urging the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Historic Preservation Office to place the former Martin Luther King Jr. house in Camden on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places, cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee today.
“Martin Luther King Jr. has a special connection to Camden and by preserving this home, we will provide residents with a special place to honor him,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Historic places are a part of a community’s story, part of its history and character. Now that we have a landmark that played a role for one of our country’s heroes, we have to make sure that story is told for generations to come.”
“We are urging the state to place this residence on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places so that it may be celebrated and preserved for future generations,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “At a pivotal time in the Nation’s history, Camden County served as the backdrop for a chapter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic life and story. This home should be saved and recognized as a place of education and inspiration for students, visitors and, most importantly, the community.”
This historic home is located on 753 Walnut Street in Camden. Reports show that Dr. King lived here in the 1950’s while he was attending Crozer Theological Seminary for his degree. It was around this time, when he and his friends went to a bar called “Mary’s Café” and was denied service and threatened. Dr. King would later cite this incident as the beginning of his involvement in the fight to end racial segregation.
The City of Camden has also expressed interest in seeing the home preserved, they offered to donate the vacant lot next door, and Rutgers University-Camden Law School has offered to set up a nonprofit for the property’s management for free.
SCR126 cleared the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee 5-0 and will now head to the full Senate for further consideration.