Local civil rights icon remembers friend Martin Luther King

EWING, N.J. (WPVI) -- At the Kidsbridge Tolerance Museum in Ewing, young children were learning about empathy and empowerment Monday while down the hall, local civil rights icon Edith Savage Jennings remembered the bloody battle for racial equality.

Jennings was a friend of Coretta and Dr. Martin Luther King.

Coretta was her matron of honor.

Jennings spoke to King on the phone just hours before he died, when he made an unusual request.

"[He said], 'if anything should happen to me, would you please stay close to Coretta and the children?' I said, 'Martin I don't own a black dress. What are you talking about?' He said, 'I just want you to promise me that, then I'll go get the plane.'"

King got on a plane and flew to Memphis, where he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel.

Jennings, who helped integrate Trenton movie theaters when she was 13, believes Dr. King had a premonition about his death.

"He had so many threats and so forth, he knew. He was preparing himself," Jennings said.

46 years later, King was remembered Monday with events like the one at the Good Intent Firehouse in Mount Holly where kids made cards for seniors.

"I want to do a good job because I really want them to like it," young Alexis Fisher of Florence, New Jersey said.

Little ones, of course, may not know much about Dr. King yet, but organizers say it's never too early to learn about service and contributing to your community.

"Helping the senior center and maybe people that don't have family members," Mt. Holly Recreation volunteer Briana Banks said.

"Everybody should be treated fairly and equal," 10-year-old Sidney Graham said.

And so whether it's Sidney just learning about Dr. King's speeches or 89-year-old Edith Savage Jennings, who still misses her friend, this was a day to remember a man who changed our nation.

Though as Jennings says, there's still so much work left to do.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.