Photo credits to the Jersey Journal 

“Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in,” these were the words that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared with a group of young people in 1959 and words that we could say described who he was — a humanitarian and noble leader striving to create a better world for all to live in. 

Honoring Dr. King is more than just thinking about his legacy on his observed holiday, it’s about continuing to fight for equal civil rights no matter the race, gender, origin or age and not just for Americans, but everyone worldwide. 

As he said it best, “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Hudson County was graced by Dr. King’s presence back in the 60s. He visited Jersey City twice in three years sharing wisdom and hope among a divided community that had been experiencing racially-motivated riots

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Saint Peter’s College in 1965 

Photo credits to Saint Peter’s University

On September 21, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received an honorary Doctor of Laws and Letters degree from Saint Peter’s College, now known as Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City. The university, which was the only Jesuit school to award Dr. King, an honorary doctorate, invited Dr. King to speak at Michaelmas Convocation – an annual ceremony that recognizes Saint Peter’s students for academic achievement. 

Dinneen Hall Jersey City, NJ
Dinneen Hall (Neidy Gutierrez | SoCul Images)

At the ceremony, approximately 500 people gathered at the Dinneen Auditorium to hear Dr. King speak against segregation and about the “American Dream” that had not yet been fulfilled – all men being treated equal as they were created equal. 

Those in attendance were mainly Catholic white men, who were primarily first generation college students, representing 64 different countries

Despite setbacks in the civil rights movement, Dr. King was hopeful of the future stating, “although some will be scared, lose jobs and be called bad names, our problems will be solved. We shall overcome.” 


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in 1968

Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church in Jersey City, NJ
Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church (Neidy Gutierrez | SoCul Images)

Dr. King spoke to nearly 2,000 people at the Metropolitan A.M.E Zion Church on March 27, 1968, one week before his death. 

He was calling for support on his upcoming “Poor People’s Campaign” which he intended to march to Washington D.C with and call for government officials to provide “jobs, unemployment insurance, a fair minimum wage, and education for poor adults and children designed to improve their self-image and self-esteem.” 

Besides seeking support, he was also encouraging everyone to do their part in taking action to see change in not just Jersey City, but everywhere else. 

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