• The History of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speeches in Jersey City

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    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Honoring Dr. King for MLK Day, we did a little deep-dive into the history that involves Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Hudson County. There’s actually a decent amount; in fact, the revered pastor and civil activist spoke in Jersey City — twice that we know of — and here’s what else we found.

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    Dr. King spoke at least twice in Jersey City in the ’60s, according to CityofJerseyCity.org. On September 21st, 1965, he actually received an honorary Doctor of Law from St. Peter’s College. Upon his reception, he gave a speech called “The American Dream” to over 500 people during the annual Michaelmas Convocation — a much photographed event {and even televised} as Dr. King spoke out against segregation and for equality. Unfortunately the MLK Jr. Papers Project at Stanford reported it doesn’t have a transcription of the speech, but there are many historical references to its occurrence {including this photo!}.

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    From first and second-hand accounts, it was noted that he said, “The time is always now,” and postured that legislation is an important part in the civil rights battle. He was also quoted saying that “although legislation could not change a persons ideas, it could regulate his behavior and restrain the heartlessness.”

    Citing his own non-violent forms of resistance, he condemned violence and said it created more problems than it solved, foreseeing a world in which “there will be a symphony of brotherhood.” A world, “where all of god’s children, white and black, Protestant and Catholic, Jew and Gentile, will be free at last.”

    See More: The Hudson County Women That Inspire Us

    The second time Dr. King came to Hudson County was Wednesday, March 27th, 1968 which was less than seven days before his assassination. At this visit, he spoke in front of over 2,000 people at Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church.

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    In another noteworthy instance in D.C., King was photographed with JC police officer Charles Jackson during a speech. Jackson was hired as a security coordinator to assist with the event in our nation’s capital.

    Today on MLK Boulevard in Jersey City, there stands a large bust of Dr. King.

     

    And with that knowledge — we’ll leave you with a quote:

    “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

    ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Read More: Exploring Jersey City: The Heights

     


    Written by:

    Jen is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hoboken Girl. She started the site to discover and share the wealth of things happening in Hudson County. Her roots in the area extend to her maternal grandparents, who owned two textile factories in Weehawken and North Bergen. When not planning the next Hoboken Girl event/volunteer project or editing her life away, she can usually be found shopping at local boutiques, eating an Insta-worthy meal, walking her French bulldog + rescue pup, or watching the latest murder doc on Netflix with her husband.


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