The Common Good

An Injustice in Camden

I recently heard that the state of New Jersey plans to evict the Camden Children's Garden from its 14-year-old home. 

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Camden, N.J., is now the most impoverished city in the U.S. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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I don't know if you know much about Camden, N.J., but it's one of the cities in our country that wrestles with a myriad of social issues. There are a number of incredible people there that work tirelessly to improve the living and social conditions. Mission Year has spent a number of years living and working beside neighbors and friends in this city. The people there are very committed to things like improving housing, education, and tackling food desert issues, and they have very little resources with which to work.

Apparently most of the people who work at the gardens live in the city. When it was built the property was vacant at a time when opportunities in Camden were even more scarce. These workers were there before it was popular to be there. The Camden Children's Garden is a truly community-centered endeavor that is doing great work in a city with scarce resources.  

The state claims that uprooting this successful local neighbor, which is a public/private partnership, will "enhance" the economic potential for the downtown waterfront.

This story sounds a bit familiar — one we have heard over and over again. Move out the old to make room for potential newcomers. This is shameful, and we are tired of this method of operation. There are children and families who deserve to be treated better than what is currently happening. Let's join our brothers and sisters in Camden by sounding a few alarms. Visit their Facebook page to learn more. Remember the words of Dr. King: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Leroy Barber is president of Mission Year, a national urban initiative introducing 18-to-29 year olds to missional and communal living in city centers for one year of their lives. He is also the pastor of Community Fellowships Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

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