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Mistreatment Of Dr. King's Legacy By New Jersey Officials Sparks Sharp NAACP Rebuke

Does delay evidence discrimination?

King was at the Walnut Street house hours before going to Maple Shade for the protest that produced the lawsuit, according to Duff’s documentation. King listed 753 Walnut Street Camden as his address on police reports from that gun toting service denial encounter.

The Stockton study speculated that since King had experienced prior incidents of discrimination at the Chester seminary and at a restaurant in Philadelphia, the Maple Shade incident basically had no more impact on King’s “subsequent activism” than any of the other adverse incidents.

“Such contemporary incidents of racial discrimination are important to the HPO’s assessment of the singularity and importance of the Maple Shade incident in King’s experience,” the Stockton study declared.

The minor significance attributed to the Maple Shade incident led the study authors to question rather that incident and its connection to 753 satisfied one criteria being used for this historic Register designation: that the Maple Shade incident “must be deemed formative to Martin Luther King’s life in terms of development of his…subsequent civil rights activism.

While the Stockton study does not view the fact that King filed his first lawsuit from the Maple Shade encounter as having a particular import the NAACP’s letter stated “it can be reasonably concluded that [King’s] stay in New Jersey became the birthplace of his civil rights activism.”

Dr. King characterized the Maple Shade incident as a pivotal event in the growth of his commitment to civil rights activism. Many biographies and books on King include that Maple Shade incident.

Curiously, that study fails to mention the involvements of historic Camden/NJ figures Wiggins and Johnson with King’s Maple Shade incident. Wiggins and Johnson each achieved many historic ‘Firsts’ in NJ separate from their 1950 involvements with King who was then virtually unknown.

Another unusual aspect about the treatment of the historic recognition application for 753 Walnut is the length of time HPO has taken for its review that application for acceptance or rejection.

NJ researcher Patrick Duff first filed an application for historic designation in March 2015. Yet, over 1,000-days later the HPO review had not approved or rejected Duff’s application when such reviews are typically completed within 45-days.

However, HPO spokespersons caution that there is nothing untoward in the years-long review of the application related to one of the world’s most famous persons: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The NAACP letter stated, “we strongly urge [the HPO] to reject the study and designate 753 Walnut Street, Camden, New Jersey for listing in the New Jersey Historic Registry.”

story | by Dr. Radut