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MLK at Mary's Cafe

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MLK in South Jersey

Martin Luther King, Jr. has a number of important connections to South Jersey. He visited South Jersey often when he attended Crozier College in Philadelphia, and may have stayed at a house in Camden at the time.

Most significant was his experience at Mary’s Café in Maple Shade on Sunday, June 10, 1950, when he and three friends were refused service, an event that led a gun being fired, charges being filed and a court hearing, all of led to his being radicalized and steering him in the direction of seeking civil rights for all.

King also visited Cape May, where he gave a speech in 1958, before he became a national spokesman for civil rights.

One of King’s aides, Clarence Jones, who helped write the “I Have A Dream” Speech, also has a South Jersey connection. Jones was the son of a domestic housekeeper for a wealthy family who owned a second summer home in Longport, on Atlantic City’s Absecon Island at the Jersey Shore. Jones’ first experienced racism in Longport and it too had a dramatic effect on him and his ultimate role in the civil rights movement.

MLK AT MARY'S CAFE, Maple Shade, N.J.

[First posted at White Deer Café blog – Sunday, April 20, 2008 ]

MLK at Mary’s Café in Maple Shade (NJ)

Mary’s Café, until it was recently torn down by the State of New Jersey, was located at the clover leaf overpass intersection of Route 73 and Main Street, Maple Shade, a suburban town between Camden and Morrestown.

When I was riding around the area, the old neighborhood near where I grew up, I stopped by the old highway bar, looked in the door window, and saw the stools upside down on the bar and the interior dirty, dusty and ghostly. But it was pretty much all there, plastic and formica art deco interior that could have been cleaned up and opened as a museum, not of a typical Jersey bar, but the place where Martin Luther King’s attitude on civil rights changed, and thus changed America.

There at least, should be an historical plaque at the curb, letting people know what occurred there on that Sunday afternoon, June 10, 1950.

Continued at:

Center/Study of Political Assassinations

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