clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

13 Philly places where Martin Luther King, Jr. left his mark

View as Map

This Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so we thought we'd take a trip through history and retrace his steps through Philadelphia. King's journey to Philly began just outside of the city in Chester, where he attended the now closed Crozer Theological Seminary. Throughout the sixties, he often returned to Philadelphia to give speeches at local universities and churches, as well as visit his close mentor Reverend J. Pius Barbour at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester. To celebrate MLK Day, we put together this map of all the places that he left his mark. We begin at number one, the start of MLK's journey in Philly. Know of another significant spot that's not on the map? Leave a comment and we'll add it to the list!

Read More

Crozer Theological Seminary

Copy Link
MLK, Jr. studied here beginning in 1948, where he was one of 11 black students. Ironically enough, transcripts show that he received C's in public speaking class while here. Still, in 1951 he graduated first in his class.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Maple Shade

Copy Link
In 1950, King, Jr. and his friends were denied service at a restaurant the town of Maple Shade, near Camden. This moment was influential in beginning MLK’s civil rights fight, sparking the first sit-in in New Jersey. During his visits he often stayed at a rowhouse in Camden (pictured here).
Courtesy of Google Streetview

University of Pennsylvania

Copy Link
While attending Crozer Theological Seminary, MLK, Jr. also took philosophy, history, and esthetics classes the University of Pennsylvania.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Calvary Baptist Church

Copy Link
While attending seminary, MLK grew close to Reverend J. Pius Barbour, the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. He often had meals at the reverend's house and served as a student pastor at his church. When MLK later received the Nobel Prize, he immediately returned to visit Barbour. A mirror in which he looked into and said, "Who am I?" still hangs in the church.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

Fellowship House

Copy Link
MLK, Jr. was here in 1950 to hear Howard University President Mordecai Johnson speak about Mahatma Gandhi. He found the speech "profound and electrifying." In 1965, the Fellowship House planned a controversial visit for MLK, where he addressed a breakfast meeting. The original site no longer exists but continues as a farm in Pottstown.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln University

Copy Link
On June 6, 1961, MLK, Jr. delivered a commencement speech at Lincoln University, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate of law. In his speech, MLK addressed the American dream, saying, "In a real sense, America is essentially a dream, a dream as yet unfulfilled.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Bright Hope Baptist Church

Copy Link
King came here in 1964 to dedicate the new Bright Hope Baptist Church. Here he called out churches for acting as "taillights rather than headlights of the civil rights movement."

Villanova University

Copy Link
During his 1965 Philly visit at the peak of the Selma movement, MLK gave a speech at Villanova's Field House on January 20. The field house was at capacity.

Baptist Temple

Copy Link
King spoke here during his 1965 visit, where he said, "Negroes in Philadelphia live in segregated housing conditions, just like Negroes in the South!"

Girard College

Copy Link
During MLK, Jr.'s controversial visit to Philadelphia in 1965, he attended a rally at Girard College. At the time there were protests regarding the college's refusal to admit black students.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

40th and Lancaster

Copy Link
MLK, Jr. gave a historic speech at this intersection in West Philly in 1965, drawing a crowd of some 10,000 Philadelphians to the corner. King spoke of the need for "freedom now" in Philadelphia. The memorable speech is now marked by this mural by Cliff Eubanks, called "MLK at Lancaster."

Barratt Junior High School

Copy Link
King spoke to students here in 1967 about being the best people they can be, no matter their status in life. This school is now closed.

13th and Fitzwater

Copy Link
In August 3, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at this corner, near the former site of the community center at Martin Luther King Plaza. Formerly known as Hawthorne Square, it once had four high-rises. Today, it's home to a mixed-income, Philadelphia Housing Authority development and features a historical plaque marking the speech.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

Crozer Theological Seminary

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
MLK, Jr. studied here beginning in 1948, where he was one of 11 black students. Ironically enough, transcripts show that he received C's in public speaking class while here. Still, in 1951 he graduated first in his class.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Maple Shade

Courtesy of Google Streetview
In 1950, King, Jr. and his friends were denied service at a restaurant the town of Maple Shade, near Camden. This moment was influential in beginning MLK’s civil rights fight, sparking the first sit-in in New Jersey. During his visits he often stayed at a rowhouse in Camden (pictured here).
Courtesy of Google Streetview

University of Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
While attending Crozer Theological Seminary, MLK, Jr. also took philosophy, history, and esthetics classes the University of Pennsylvania.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Calvary Baptist Church

Courtesy of Google Streetview
While attending seminary, MLK grew close to Reverend J. Pius Barbour, the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. He often had meals at the reverend's house and served as a student pastor at his church. When MLK later received the Nobel Prize, he immediately returned to visit Barbour. A mirror in which he looked into and said, "Who am I?" still hangs in the church.
Courtesy of Google Streetview

Fellowship House

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
MLK, Jr. was here in 1950 to hear Howard University President Mordecai Johnson speak about Mahatma Gandhi. He found the speech "profound and electrifying." In 1965, the Fellowship House planned a controversial visit for MLK, where he addressed a breakfast meeting. The original site no longer exists but continues as a farm in Pottstown.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln University

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
On June 6, 1961, MLK, Jr. delivered a commencement speech at Lincoln University, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate of law. In his speech, MLK addressed the American dream, saying, "In a real sense, America is essentially a dream, a dream as yet unfulfilled.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Bright Hope Baptist Church

King came here in 1964 to dedicate the new Bright Hope Baptist Church. Here he called out churches for acting as "taillights rather than headlights of the civil rights movement."

Villanova University

During his 1965 Philly visit at the peak of the Selma movement, MLK gave a speech at Villanova's Field House on January 20. The field house was at capacity.

Baptist Temple

King spoke here during his 1965 visit, where he said, "Negroes in Philadelphia live in segregated housing conditions, just like Negroes in the South!"

Girard College

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
During MLK, Jr.'s controversial visit to Philadelphia in 1965, he attended a rally at Girard College. At the time there were protests regarding the college's refusal to admit black students.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

40th and Lancaster

MLK, Jr. gave a historic speech at this intersection in West Philly in 1965, drawing a crowd of some 10,000 Philadelphians to the corner. King spoke of the need for "freedom now" in Philadelphia. The memorable speech is now marked by this mural by Cliff Eubanks, called "MLK at Lancaster."

Barratt Junior High School

King spoke to students here in 1967 about being the best people they can be, no matter their status in life. This school is now closed.

13th and Fitzwater

Courtesy of Google Streetview
In August 3, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at this corner, near the former site of the community center at Martin Luther King Plaza. Formerly known as Hawthorne Square, it once had four high-rises. Today, it's home to a mixed-income, Philadelphia Housing Authority development and features a historical plaque marking the speech.
Courtesy of Google Streetview