- Councillor Sabrina Francis with the Mayor of Camden Councillor Namza Rahman and Councillor Nadia Shah
- The Revd Dr Simon Woodman speaking on stage at the event
- Cabinet Members, the Mayor of Camden and staff next to the plaque inside the church
- The Mayor of Camden with Dr Jak Beula CEO of the Nubian Jak Community Trust
- The plaque on the outside of Bloomsbury Baptist Church
Camden unveils UK’s first ever blue heritage plaque honouring Martin Luther King
Camden Council, alongside the Nubian Jak Community Trust and Bloomsbury Baptist Church, have unveiled the UK’s first blue heritage plaque honouring Martin Luther King.
The plaque was unveiled alongside community members, the Mayor of Camden, and Cabinet Members today (24 Jan) at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, where Dr King gave a sermon during a visit to the UK in 1961.
Jonathan Eig, author of Times bestselling biography ‘the King’ delivered a keynote speech during the unveiling ceremony, followed by a moving performance by Impact Dance and music from Vocal Shack.
Not only is this the first plaque honouring Martin Luther King in the UK, but this is also the first commemorative plaque to be unveiled in 2024 and the first to be installed on a place of worship.
What a fantastic day honouring Martin Luther King with a commemorative plaque at Bloomsbury Baptist Church – a place visited by Dr King over sixty years ago. Ensuring our public spaces celebrate and reflect the diversity of our communities is a priority for us and why we are committed to honouring individuals from communities that have been historically underrepresented.
As a borough we want to do more to shine a light on those who have made a real, lasting difference in this world. It was an honour to unveil a plaque for Martin Luther King with local communities to celebrate his life and work, with the hope more people can learn about his crucial campaigning for equality and peace.
Although Martin Luther King is a name that has transcended generations, I'm pleased that we have identified a space where he had a presence in the UK, and where future generations can go to feel connected with him.
Martin Luther King was born on 15 January 1929 and was an American Baptist minister and activist, being one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement from 1955, until his assassination in 1968.
Dr King preached in London for the first time on the 29 October 1961, at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church on Shaftsbury Avenue. It’s mentioned proudly in the church’s history, and six decades later is still remembered by people who were there at the time.
This sermon was one which Dr King reused over many years, and was particularly poignant having been the first sermon his wife heard him give. She commented in her biography that, “it had a special meaning for me, because it was … the first sermon I had ever heard him preach on a Sunday long ago in a little church at Roxbury, Massachusetts.”
The Nubian Jak Community Trust (NJCT) is an organisation dedicated to installing blue plaques commemorating significant individuals from underrepresented communities. Since they began in 2006, the NJCT has installed over ninety commemorative blue and black plaques around the UK. Find out more at Nubian Jak Community Trust.