Thoughts on and photos of Martin Luther King Day at the Civil Rights Garden in Atlantic City at Stockton College's Carnegie Library Center.
ATLANTIC CITY — If you’ve never been to the Civil Rights Garden in Atlantic City, you should make it a point to drop by there and sit awhile.
It is a contemplative place. Right next door to Stockton’s Carnegie Library at Pacific and MLK Blvd., this serene space has a replica of the Liberty Bell at its center, sitting below a huge, granite raised hand (presumably Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s).
I’ve been before and walked along its brick path, but I had never noticed the last paragraph on the gray slab as you enter.
It reads: "It is fitting that the garden be here, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the sons and daughters of slaves started lives anew, built a community and sustained the City. Here, where the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democratic National Convention stirred America’s conscience demanding elemental civil rights for all."
In this garden on pillars of varying heights are words from our U.S. Constitution, which at one time protected the institution of slavery. I noticed curiously that the tops of all of the pillars are rough and ragged, as if there is still work to be done to complete them. These dark granite pillars are also engraved with quotations from slaves yearning to be free, abolitionist leaders, labor leaders, Supreme Court Justices, Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman and President Lincoln.
On a recent cold but sunny morning, I waited quietly in this place for the 200 or so marchers who had left Martin Luther King School and would arrive any minute. (See photos at end of article)
In the distance, I could hear the Neptune’s Guard Drum and Bugle Corps as the marchers got closer, led by local NAACP leaders, some people carrying books, posters and banners reminding us of Dr. King’s legacy.
We gathered around the Liberty Bell and after a few remarks from Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford, Atlantic County Charles Freeholder Garrett and Council President William “Speedy” Marsh, we bowed our heads and closed our eyes as the bell tolled.
Langford, Garrett and Marsh reminded the crowd that we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. A wreath was laid in Dr. King’s honor and the marchers headed over to St. James Church for the rest of the afternoon.
At St. James, Mayor Langford announced, “We march for King, because King marched for us.” He told the young people in the audience that hope springs eternal for them, but right now, he is more concerned about justice and equality in our city.
Langford pointed out many of the male leaders in the audience who grew up on or near Baltic Avenue, “the cheapest property on the Monopoly board,” we were reminded by Richard Smith, the keynote speaker.
Before Smith took to the microphone, Langford recalled, “King and others fought too hard and too long for us to allow others to take away our sovereign right to govern ourselves.”
Smith, president of the Greater Vineland NAACP, came up loud and strong, boldly encouraging the young people to take things to the next level, to have vision and to be persistent in making their visions become reality.
He said we should be proud of the unwavering dedication of our local NAACP leaders who “persevered until the A.C. chapter was reinstated.”
Smith admonished parents to be parents and not the friendly peers of their children, and he spoke at length about silence not always being golden. Citing Malcolm X, whom he said was his favorite civil rights leader, because he never became complacent, Smith encouraged people to speak up and speak out when necessary.
If the mayor does run again, she will play a major role in campaigning, because she enjoys urging people to get-out-the-vote, making them feel a part of something special and taking ownership.
It dawned on me the other day that I have completed my first year as an acweekly.com columnist. It’s been one of the best years of my life, a year that has forced me to challenge myself and grow as a writer.
When are we going to hear more talk about the many efforts available to help parents, teen and otherwise, deal with their own lack of parenting skills, feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, depression and outdated employability skills?
Over the last few months when families were gathering for all types of occasions, some of the young men in our family refused to attend because of “so many divorced couples and so few new marriages.” I was disappointed by their absence but understood their sentiments. Like many modern American families, we’ve had so many divorces now that one niece asked, “Is divorce a tradition in our family?”
There was a reason why I dedicated my book, Growing Up in the Other Atlantic City: Wash’s and the Northside, to all the families in Atlantic City, in addition to my own grandparents and children — I knew they had similar stories to tell.
Today, most funding comes from city grants, local businesses and casino donations.
Judge Nelson Johnson's latest book 'The Northside,' on Atlantic City's history of African-Americans, is missing key components says community leader. Johnson's previous book Boardwalk Empire was turned into the 2010 HBO series, the second season of which is filming now.
His white hair tufted beyond tolerance, the minister stepped into the barbershop and its buzz of bonhomie. Combs raked scalps, scissors snipped furiously, and the scent of lilac water suffused the air. Twenty minutes later, the clergyman stood from the pedestal-chair and surveyed his reshaped dome. The dark skin of his forehead glistened below the white fringe. He paid the barber and paused on the black rubber mat. “Am I good for another dime?” The barber grinned. “You bet.” And so he did — 10 cents on number 357, a wager to be rewarded only if the digits corresponded, respectively, to the last number on each of the day’s win-place-show handles at Aqueduct Racetrack, some 90 miles to the north. The “numbers,” or “policy,” game was a lottery before lotteries were legal. Nearly everyone in town played it even...
Pop Lloyd played professional baseball in the Negro Leagues from 1906 to 1932, as a shortstop, second baseman and first baseman, including two stints with the Bacharach Giants of Atlantic City. In 1910 he out-hit Ty Cobb in a Cuban winter league series — .500 to .385.
FIVE YEARS AGO THIS WEEK Atlantic City lost a treasure. I still carry around the late Sid Trusty’s faded yellow business card in my wallet. I got the opportunity to meet the man on a few occasions before he passed away on Aug. 16, 2004.
Atlantic City Weekly's Weekend Hot Tub Party is honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a look back at the outcomes of the civil rights movement, some interesting facts you might not have known and a sweet playlist of songs inspired by Dr. King, some that were even performed at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where King delivered his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech.
Plus the Album of the Week, Drew Toonz, and this weekend's Jazz Vespers salute to Art Blakey, featuring Keith Hollis.