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Photo by C. Smyth for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

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

From Girard College to a rowhouse in Camden

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated with the most recent information.

Monday, January 21 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so we thought we’d take a trip through history and retrace his steps through Philadelphia. While King, Jr. has southern roots, the start of his journey from Baptist minister to Civil Rights activist began in and around Philly.

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!

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1. Crozer Theological Seminary

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MLK, Jr. studied here beginning in 1948, where he was one of 11 African-American students. It may come as a surprise that transcripts reveal the future orator received C’s in public speaking class while here. Still, in 1951 he graduated first in his class.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2. 753 Walnut Street

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753 Walnut St
Camden, NJ 08103

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 this rowhouse in Camden, which only recently was designated historic and saved from demolition. In 2018, the owner of the house announced plans to put it up for sale.

Google Streetview

3. University of Pennsylvania

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While attending Crozer Theological Seminary, MLK also audited classes in philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Courtesy of f11photo / Shutterstock.com.

4. Calvary Baptist Church

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1616 W 2nd St
Chester, PA 19013

While attending seminary, MLK grew close to Reverend J. Pius Barbour, the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester. 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.

Interesting note: Even without MLK’s connection, the church has an important history; it was founded by a group of freed slaves who had traveled to Pennsylvania from Virginia in the 1870s.

5. Fellowship House

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1431 Brown St
Philadelphia, PA 19130

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 Fellowship House, which was an interfaith and interracial community center, no longer exists.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

6. Lincoln University

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1570 Baltimore Pike
Lincoln University, PA 19352

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.”

7. Bright Hope Baptist Church

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1601 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19122

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.”

Our Annual Vision Church Conference will be on 2 February 2014, immediately following worship.

Posted by Bright Hope Baptist Church on Wednesday, January 29, 2014

8. Villanova University

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800 Lancaster Ave
Villanova, PA 19085

During his 1965 Philly visit at the peak of the Selma movement, MLK gave a speech at Villanova University on January 20. To this day, Villanova hosts a MLK Keynote Address every year in honor of the civil rights activist’s visit.

9. The Baptist Temple

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1837 N Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19121

King spoke here during his 1965 visit, where he said, “Negroes in Philadelphia live in segregated housing conditions, just like Negroes in the South.” Today, Baptist Temple is known as  Temple Performing Arts Center.

A post shared by Temple University (@templeuniv) on

10. Girard College

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2101 S College Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19121

During MLK, Jr.’s visit to Philadelphia in 1965, he attended a rally at Girard College. At the time, there were protests taking place on campus over the college’s refusal to admit black students. Three years later, the first four African-American students were enrolled.

11. “MLK at Lancaster” Mural

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4000 Lancaster Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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 of 40th and Lancaster. 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.”

Photo by C. Smyth for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

12. 13th and Fitzwater Street

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1300 Fitzwater St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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.

via Google Streetview

13. Barratt Junior High School

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1599 Wharton St
Philadelphia, PA 19146

Although now closed, Barratt Junior High School is where MLK, Jr. once gave a speech called “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” to students in 1967. He spoke about being the best people they can be, no matter their status in life.

1. Crozer Theological Seminary

Upland, PA 19013
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

MLK, Jr. studied here beginning in 1948, where he was one of 11 African-American students. It may come as a surprise that transcripts reveal the future orator received C’s in public speaking class while here. Still, in 1951 he graduated first in his class.

2. 753 Walnut Street

753 Walnut St, Camden, NJ 08103
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 this rowhouse in Camden, which only recently was designated historic and saved from demolition. In 2018, the owner of the house announced plans to put it up for sale.

753 Walnut St
Camden, NJ 08103

3. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA 19104
Courtesy of f11photo / Shutterstock.com.

While attending Crozer Theological Seminary, MLK also audited classes in philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

4. Calvary Baptist Church

1616 W 2nd St, Chester, PA 19013

While attending seminary, MLK grew close to Reverend J. Pius Barbour, the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester. 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.

Interesting note: Even without MLK’s connection, the church has an important history; it was founded by a group of freed slaves who had traveled to Pennsylvania from Virginia in the 1870s.

1616 W 2nd St
Chester, PA 19013

5. Fellowship House

1431 Brown St, Philadelphia, PA 19130
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 Fellowship House, which was an interfaith and interracial community center, no longer exists.

1431 Brown St
Philadelphia, PA 19130

6. Lincoln University

1570 Baltimore Pike, Lincoln University, PA 19352

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.”

1570 Baltimore Pike
Lincoln University, PA 19352

7. Bright Hope Baptist Church

1601 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19122

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.”

1601 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19122

8. Villanova University

800 Lancaster Ave, Villanova, PA 19085

During his 1965 Philly visit at the peak of the Selma movement, MLK gave a speech at Villanova University on January 20. To this day, Villanova hosts a MLK Keynote Address every year in honor of the civil rights activist’s visit.

800 Lancaster Ave
Villanova, PA 19085

9. The Baptist Temple

1837 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19121

King spoke here during his 1965 visit, where he said, “Negroes in Philadelphia live in segregated housing conditions, just like Negroes in the South.” Today, Baptist Temple is known as  Temple Performing Arts Center.

1837 N Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19121

10. Girard College

2101 S College Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19121

During MLK, Jr.’s visit to Philadelphia in 1965, he attended a rally at Girard College. At the time, there were protests taking place on campus over the college’s refusal to admit black students. Three years later, the first four African-American students were enrolled.

2101 S College Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19121

11. “MLK at Lancaster” Mural

4000 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Photo by C. Smyth for VISIT PHILADELPHIA

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 of 40th and Lancaster. 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.”

4000 Lancaster Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19104

12. 13th and Fitzwater Street

1300 Fitzwater St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
via 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.

1300 Fitzwater St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

13. Barratt Junior High School

1599 Wharton St, Philadelphia, PA 19146

Although now closed, Barratt Junior High School is where MLK, Jr. once gave a speech called “What Is Your Life’s Blueprint?” to students in 1967. He spoke about being the best people they can be, no matter their status in life.

1599 Wharton St
Philadelphia, PA 19146