TRENTON – Senators Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Jim Beach yesterday introduced a concurrent resolution 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 on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.
“This historic building located right in our city has a story to tell and it is our responsibility to make sure that we can share it with those in Camden, in our state and throughout the country,” said Senator Cruz-Perez (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Martin Luther King Jr. may have only lived here a short time, but by preserving this home, we will provide residents with this special place to honor right here in our proud city.”
“If only for a brief period, Camden County served as the backdrop for a chapter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic life and story,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington/Camden). “This home should be saved and recognized as a place of education and inspiration for students, visitors and, most importantly, the community. 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.”
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 has been referred to the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.