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Atlanta is the birthplace of one of the most important and most famous freedom fighters in the world: Martin Luther King. He grew up in Sweet Auburn, a neighbourhood that still attracts visitors from all around the world. The house where he was born, the church where he preached and his final resting place have all been transformed into museums – a tribute to this passionate activist.
All these sites that are dedicated to Martin Luther King are now known as the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. This also includes an educational visitors’ centre, a rose garden, the Behold Monument and The King Center. You will learn everything about his life and the important role he played in the fight for equality between black and white. How did this charming, outgoing boy become the feisty winner of the Nobel Peace Prize?
The Visitor Center is the perfect place to start your visit. Pick up a map and the photographs, videos and stories give you an overview of the life of Martin Luther King. After seeing the pictures of King and Rosa Parks, the lady who became famous for refusing to give her seat on the bus to a white person, read the stories about the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This is the civil rights movement that Martin Luther King represented. King became known for his boycott of city buses, after Rosa Parks was arrested; his call for a non-violent fight against racism culminated in his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the March on Washington on 28 August 1963.
The Visitor Center also features a permanent exhibit for children that showcases the achievements of youth in the King’s Civil Rights Movement. Tip: sign up early for a tour of Martin Luther King’s house.
The Historic Site includes the house where the King family resided from 1926 to 1941. This is where Martin Luther was born on 15 January 1929. He was the middle child, with an older sister and a younger brother. The house has been mostly restored to its original state when it was home to the King family. Visitors can walk through the bedroom where he used to love reading his books, the dining room where father King always gathered the family for meals, and the kitchen where his beloved grandmother Williams often cooked for the family.
Near King’s birthplace stands the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the church where King was baptised and where his father taught him how to preach. His passionate and inspiring sermons made him world famous. His world famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at a mass rally in Washington in August 1963, in which he describes his dream of a society where black and white are equal, is still frequently quoted. In the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the recordings of King’s sermons sound through the speakers. Inspiring stories that are guaranteed to give you goosebumps.
Although a hero to many, King was seen as an enemy by opponents of equality. On 4 April 1968, he was assassinated for his actions. He was shot by a sniper when he stepped out on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis for some fresh air. An hour later he died in the hospital – he was only 39 years old. King’s body is buried in a grave just outside The King Center. It stands in the middle of a pond where an eternal flame burns. The King Center displays some of King’s personal belongings. At the Center, you can also learn more about other non-violent activists who were admired by King, such as his wife Coretta Scott King and Mahatma Gandhi.
Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
450 Auburn Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30312