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Camden Pair On A Mission To Protect Historic Former Home Of Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Patterson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It is one of Camden's untold legacies.

For two years of his life, from 1948 to 1950, Martin Luther King Junior lived at a now-dilapidated home in the 700-block of Walnut Street.

King stayed in Camden with a friend while attending seminary school in Chester. He would leave there on a mission of civil rights.

"I said wait…this is an unknown fact. This is something people don't realize is real," said Civil Rights Activist Patrick Duff. "This is the house that he lived in when he really became a civil rights leader."

Duff studied that period in King's life. He said he learned about the home from a police report in 1950, which alleges a bar owner in Maple Shade refused King service then pulled a gun on him.

Duff said he used the report to track down the current home's owner: Jinette Hunt.

"I saw him, I spoke to him, I talked to him, but it was just a casual thing," she said. "He was very calm, I can remember that. We just would talk."

Hunt's father-in-law owned the home in the late 40s and let King stay there.

Since inheriting the home years later, Jinette has had to fight: keeping taxes up to date, keeping thieves from ripping off everything inside and keeping it off the city's abandoned property list when they did.

But that's all changed since meeting Patrick.

"I'm just happy to see something positive there," she said. "I think it will be a great benefit for Camden and the neighborhood up there. I think it will be an asset."

The pair has now engaged city and state officials in making the home a historical site, keeping it protected and now, going after funding for renovations to create an education center.

"I think if people had the knowledge that the greatest civil rights leader in America lived right here and formulated himself right here," Duff said. "It might give some other people in this area more than they're told they can be."

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