State Capitol Chaplain looks to Dr. Martin Luther King’s playbook to deliver change to Hartford’s North End


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — In the ongoing effort to improve conditions in Hartford, one of the leaders is taking a page from Dr. Martin Luther King’s playbook to deliver change.

Pastor AJ Johnson is a force to be reckoned with in the city of Hartford. He has been very active in trying to attract development in the city’s predominantly Black North End, a section of the city he said has been neglected.

Related: Celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. around Connecticut

Johnson was also recently named the Chaplain at the State Capitol, so he now has the ear of state lawmakers.

“We are having a big moral conversation at the capitol and I am happy to be there to lead our legislators in prayer,” he says.

On the topic of Dr. Martin Luther King, “How he fought for justice, how he exposed racism in this country by not fighting hatred with hatred.”

One of Johnson’s goals now is to revitalize Hartford’s North End, which was damaged by rioters after King was assassinated in 1968. Johnson told News 8 it has never fully recovered.

“There was white flight – a lot of the white people moved out of the North End which destabilized the economy but we have not been able to recover. You begin to see that racism, systematic racism is real and that’s what Dr. King fought for. He fought for desegregating schools. He fought for desegregating communities.”

Related: High schoolers in Simsbury honor life of Dr. Martin Luther King with permanent memorial at library

He asks, “Why is that West Hartford Square and North Hartford look a totally different way less than five miles from each other? Why?”

Johnson also is committed to changing the system so Black entrepreneurs can get more help from banks and lending institutions to help start new businesses in Connecticut.

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