United States

Atlanta

Martin Luther King Visitor Center





King_Center_Visitor_Center


 
 
Summary

The Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia, is located in the neighbourhood where he was born.  The area includes a visitors center with a museum, Dr. King’s tomb, the house where he was born, and other buildings connected to his life and work.
 
 


Established in 1980, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park commemorates the life and work of civil liberties activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  The 32-acre park is located in a Victorian residential neighbourhood on Auburn Avenue, just east of downtown Atlanta, Georgia.

The park consists of several buildings and includes a Visitors Center which was built in 1996.  The Center contains a museum that houses exhibits, photographs, and videos which depict Dr. King’s life, as well as films of some of his famous speeches and events which formed part of the Civil Rights movement in America.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a prominent leader of the Civil Rights movement and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was known for his use of nonviolent civil disobedience tactics.  He was born on January 15, 1929 and was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.  At his funeral, which was held in Atlanta on April 9, his body was placed on an old, two-mule wagon which led the procession of over 200,000 mourners.  This wagon is now on display in the Visitor’s Centre.

Across from the Visitors Center is The Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, also known as The King Center.  On its grounds stands the tomb of Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott, whom he married on June 18, 1953.  The tomb was dedicated in 1977, when his remains were moved there.  His wife was interned with him following her death in 2006.  Their tomb is surrounded by a reflecting pool with water cascading down steps lettered with Dr. King’s words: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream”.  In front of the tomb burns an eternal flame which serves as a reminder of the Kings’ undying commitment to their community.

The King Center houses the King library and archives, and Freedom Hall which has a large theatre and conference auditorium.

Next to the King Center is the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Martin Luther King Jr’s father and grandfather served as pastors, and where he himself served as co-pastor during the 1960’s.  Between 2001 and 2011 the sanctuary and fellowship hall were restored to their 1960’s appearance.

Up the street, at 501 Auburn Avenue, is Dr. King’s birthplace.  The two-story house was constructed in 1895 and has 14 rooms.  Because Martin Luther King Sr did not want his children to be born in a segregated hospital, all three children were born in this house.  Here is where Dr. King spent his formative years.  He lived here with his parents, maternal grandparents, sister, brother, uncle, and great aunt until he was 12 years old.  It was then that his father purchased a brick house nearby.  That house was torn down in the 1960’s to make room for an interstate highway. 

When they moved to their new home, King’s grandfather converted the house on Auburn Avenue into a rental property.  After Dr. King’s death, the home was turned into an historical site and underwent its first renovation in 1974.  

Today, visitors may join a free guided tour of the house and see how it would have looked during the time that Dr. King and his family lived there.  On the tour, one hears accounts of the young Martin’s childhood life.  For example, they can see the Dining Room where the family had a formal dinner every night, and where the children had to recite Bible verses during dinner.  

Photographs are not permitted inside the house.  Large photos of each room are exhibited in the restored house next door to the birthplace, which is also owned by the National Park Service and serves as a gift shop connected to the historical park.

On a narrow alleyway next to these two houses, at 493 – 495 Auburn Avenue, is a row of one-story, two-room, “shotgun-style” homes, typical housing in the late 19th century for those of low-income who worked at a nearby mill. 



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Visitor Center Reception Cart used for Coffin


 
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Displays Birth House



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Church Exterior Church Interior



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Tomb of Martin Luther King Jr and his wife



 

 

Copyright - All  Photographs copyright Ron Gatepain

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