A Short History of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Visits to New Jersey

by Alice Magdziak • January 16, 2017 • Newsy JerseyComments (0)2071

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. toured and spoke in New Jersey many times throughout his short life. The photo above is from the Star Ledger when he toured Newark on March 27, 1968. Two years ago, NJ.com put up a great slideshow of photos depicting Dr. King in New Jersey.

Many people choose to celebrate his life by giving back to the community in some way today. Honor him in your own way by finding a community service project.  Visit MLKDay.gov to find projects near you.

MLK Speaking at Southside HS Newark

photos courtesy of NJ.com (photo credit: Dave Booker)

Here’s another picture of him above in Newark thanks to the Star Ledger.  This time he’s addressing students at Southside High School.

He spoke at least twice in Jersey City, too.  On September 21, 1965, he received an honorary Doctor of Law from St. Peter’s College in Jersey City. Dr. King gave an address titled “The American Dream.”
On Wednesday, March 27, 1968, eight days before his death, nearly 2,000 heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in Jersey City. Dr. King encouraged support for his upcoming “Poor People’s Campaign.” Later that day, he also spoke at the Bethel AME church in Paterson where he delivered his last public speech.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any recordings of speeches from New Jersey but you can see some of his more famous speeches here.

On a tour of historic African-American Paterson churches in October 2014, we stopped at the Bethel AME Church at Governor and Auburn Streets. Formerly a Dutch Reformed church, the Bethel AME congregation was the last public speaking engagement for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on March 27, 1968, before he headed to Memphis and his ultimate assassination there.


Ed asked if the church was packed that day and tour guide Jimmy Richardson who lived across the street from the church as a boy said it was standing room only inside and the streets outside the church were filled as well. There is a tale that speakers were placed outside the church so people could hear but according to Richardson this was not the case.


Rosa Parks also spoke here so there was a lot of history to revisit here with Mr. Richardson.  You could hear how proud he was of his home church.  Across the street from the church the community is putting up a memorial park for many of the historical figures that graced Auburn Street. PatersonAATour-19Keep Dr. King’s messages in your hearts today and every day.

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