Martin Luther King, Jr. in Philadelphia, Miss.

Neshoba County Courthouse (1928, R.C. Springer, archt.). Photo by Jennifer Baughn, MDAH, 2004. Retrieved from Historic Resources Database 1-15-2011.

From the Downtown Philadelphia Historic District nomination, recounting the civil rights march led by Martin Luther King, Jr., in Philadelphia. Held on June 21, 1966, the march from Independence Quarters, a large black neighborhood west of the railroad, to the courthouse was meant to bring attention to the Schwerner, Chaney & Goodman murders:

King began to mount the steps of the courthouse, where he met Deputy Price, who refused to allow him any further. King turned around to address the crowd, “In this county Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Mickey Schwerner were brutally murdered. I believe the murderers are somewhere around me at this moment.” At that, King later confided to friends, Price responded from in back of him, “You damn right, they’re right behind you.” Violence erupted after the speech, when King led the marchers west down Beacon Street back toward Independence Quarters. [Florence] Mars recalls that some of the Klansmen “encouraged a high school bully who jumped off the back of a car into the line of marchers. Then several whites yelling obscenities struck with fists and hurled stones, bottles, clubs, and firecrackers. Negro youths started fighting back, and then the police stepped in for the first time.”

The Downtown Philadelphia Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places at the national level of significance on April 14, 2005. Read the nomination here.

Categories: African American History, Architectural Research, Civil Rights, Courthouses, Philadelphia

1 reply

  1. When we really stop to think about the historic events in the places around us, it ought to stop us in our tracks for at least a moment to think. I shudder to think of the violence which took place not so very far from my own place of residence in Washington in 1968. History sometimes needs to bare an open wound in order for people to really learn from the mistakes and injustices of the past. A thoughtful and sobering post for today Malvaney! I think I’ll go off in search of his memory with my camera.


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