The popular east coast radio station, Thunder World Radio, was recording a show on Friday night when a caller brought up the topic of Martin Luther King Jr.’s residence in Camden, NJ in the late 1940s.
Incidentally, Thunder World Radio’s founder, Joe Kane, is no stranger to the stories and history about Dr. King’s residence in Camden. In 2014, Mr. Kane stumbled across an intriguing story from a city of Camden resident.
The story goes that Mr. King visited this simple row house at 940 Newton Street while he was a seminary student at Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, PA just outside of Chester. In a biography published in 1959 titled Crusader Without Violence, Mr. King briefly recalls the time he spent in Camden.
Nearly 40 years later, the 940 Newton Street home was mentioned in a newspaper story published by the Courier-Post. In the story, Susan Cedrone, a social worker, recalled that when she visited a patient at the 940 Newton Street home in the late 1990s, she saw family-style photographs that featured a young Martin Luther King, Jr.
This re-discovery by Kane of the Newton Home and its treasures brought new inquiries (and national attention) to the Courier-Post story. This clashes with a recent court document that claims that Mr. King actually lived at 753 Walnut Street in Camden.
“The fact of the matter,” Kane states, “is that we never contended that Martin Luther King, Jr., lived at that location on Newton street – only that the circumstantial evidence supported an inquiry into why the city of Camden would demolish a home that could be tied to the great civil rights hero.” It is well known that Camden has thousands of abandoned properties in it, so why is the city so quick to knock down this particular row home?
When we asked about the story in 2014, the city government had absolutely no interest in the story at all and would not talk to us. Now, two years later, it is hypocritical and disheartening that the same people who are now taking photos and doing press in front of the 753 Walnut Street address denied they had any information about Dr. King’s time (or even the possibility of) in Camden in the 1940s.
Kane went on to say that, “I am glad I turned the light on to such a great and historic story. I look forward to seeing more than a blurry, one-page court document with [Mr.] King’s name on it, and am sure it’s just a matter of time before the college files or other city corroborating documents come to light. When this happens, I hope the millions of dollars that will pour into Camden to preserve this historic area will somehow benefit the citizens.”
As one of America’s greatest heroes, the places that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived in and visited throughout his life are of great historic value, and because of this, are at risk for being exploited or twisted to suit the needs of those looking for personal gain. It is hoped that the true history and facts surrounding this great leader of the civil rights movement will be respected and preserved as they really happened.
TJ @sjnewsradioRadio One Studio
Radio One Studio