U.S. National Parks, USA Travel

Respects to MLK | A Visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

Early morning, April 4th
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

– ‘Pride’ U2
“Marching for Change.”

While visiting Atlanta, Georgia I took one solid day to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. As an American and globetrotter, I felt that it was important to witness the life of this great Civil Rights Leader. As a world traveler, I have learned about the history of oppression in other countries and how America’s civil rights struggles are related.

Selfies standing and sitting in the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Growing up in the United States and learning about the Civil Rights Movement, was part of our formal and informal education. It was one thing to read about Martin Luther King Jr. and to celebrate a day off in honor of his birthday, but it was another thing to visit the MLK National Historical Park.

What was astounding to me was in the span of a few blocks that I walked, I learned more about his life than I ever did before. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park is the actual neighborhood that centers around the life of MLK.

There are several historical buildings and sights in the national park including:

✔ Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birth Home

✔ Ebenezer Baptist Church

✔ The King Center – Tombs and Reflection Pool

✔ International Walk of Fame

✔ Gandhi Promenade

✔ Dougle Shot Gun Row Houses

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birth Home

The birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, located at 501 Auburn Avenue is tucked into the Sweet Auburn Historic District in Atlanta, Georgia. It was not only his birth home but also his family’s home as his maternal grandparents purchased it in 1909. Three generations of King’s family had resided here from 1909 until the 1960s.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birth Home (Middle)

There are free tours offered by the Visitor’s Center which are led by the National Park Service. For more infomation and availability, please visit: MLK Birth Home Tours

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Ebenezer Baptist Church

Considered “America’s Freedom Church”, Ebenezer Baptist Church played an essential role in King’s personal life and career. Located a couple blocks from King’s home, a five minute walk, this church played many roles in his life. King attended services here with his father “Daddy King” as an ordained minister. King Jr.’s maternal grandfather was also a minister here until he passed away. From that point on, King Jr.’s father took over as the Reverend of Ebenezer Baptist Church. King Jr. was also baptized here as a child and then ordained as a minister at the age of 19. He served as a pastor here with his father until his assassination in 1968.

During the tenure of Rev. King, Sr., he had three co-pastors. In 1960 his oldest son, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., joined his father as co-pastor, giving Ebenezer international stature. He remained in that position until his death in 1968. As a final farewell to his spiritual home Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s funeral was held in the church.

– Ebenezer Baptist Church website

Ebenezer Baptist Church – 101 Jackson St NE, Atlanta 

Even until his untimely death, Ebenezer Baptist Church played a roll in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. On April 9, 1968, his funeral was held at the church that he spent many days of his life, diligently working on America’s Civil Rights Movement.

Church Interior

In 2001 the National Park Service, started restoration of Ebenezer Baptist Church. The finalized goal was to restore this historical church’s sanctuary and the basement level’s Fellowship Hall, to replicate how it looked when both King Sr. and Jr. were pastors.

Fellowship Hall – Basement Level

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded at Ebenezer Baptist Church and became the center of our nation’s Civil Rights Movement.

For visiting and service information, please visit – Ebenezer Baptist Church website

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MLK Visitors Center

Visitor Center

Constructed in 1996, The Martin Luther King Jr. Visitor Center was built in the heart of the Historical National Park. Inside visitors engage in a multimedia exhibit,  ‘Courage To Lead‘, which educates through visual and interactive exhibitions. This moving exhibition, follows the life and journey of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

The ‘Courage to Lead’ exhibit enterance

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The simple wooden cart that held Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s casket. It was pulled by two mules in a processional for three-and-a-half miles from Ebenezer Baptist Church to Morehouse College. It was observed by over 100,000 people and mourners.

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Dr. Martin Luther King’s Speech Podium

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Mahatma Gandhi exhibition and his influence of non-violent protesting.

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Freedom Road Exhibit

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At 6:01 pm CST, on April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee

For more information, please visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Visitor Center website

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Tombs of Martin Luther King and Cora Scott King

In the center of an expansive turqoise blue reflecting pool, both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Civil Rights Leader, Cora Scott King are laid to rest. The tombs are located in a peaceful plaza between The King Center and Ebenezer Church.

The King’s Tombs

In front of the tombs of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Cora Scott King, located within a bed of flowers is the MLK Eternal Flame.

The inscription reads: “The Eternal Flame symbolizes the continuing effort to realize Dr. King’s ideals for the “Beloved Community” which requires lasting personal commitment that cannot weaken when faced with obstacles.”

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International Civil Rights Walk of Fame

Located outside the Visitor Center, the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame was created to honor several of the participants in the Civil Rights Movement. It also pays homage to those who struggled and sacrificed to make equality a reality. The Promenade of granite and bronze shoe prints also includes former American Presidents, Jimmy Carter and Lyndon B. Johnson.

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Gandhi Promenade

Donated by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in India and collaboration with The National Federation of Indian American Associations and The Embassy of India, USA this statue of Mohandas Gandhi was donated. It stands along the walkway to the enterance of the Visitor Center.

The inscribed bronze plaque reads:

Nonviolence, to be a potent force, must begin with the mind. Nonviolence of the mere body without the cooperation of the mind is nonviolence of the weak of the cowardly, and has, therefore, no potency. It is a degrading performance. If we bear malice and hatred in our bosoms and pretend not to retaliate, it must recoil upon us and lead to our destruction.— Gandhi

Tribute to the Mahatma Gandhi was inevitable. If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. He lived, thought and acted, inspired by the vision of humanity evolving toward a world of peace and harmony. We may ignore him at our own risk— Martin Luther King Jr.

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Dougle Shot Gun Row Houses

Located along Auburn Avenue and built in 1905 for the Empire Textile Mill Worker, these historic Shotgun row houses are an architectural interest. Shotgun style houses were built in the style of one room behind the other. Typically the living room would be in the front, then behind it a bedroom or two with a kitchen in the back. This style of house was nicknamed “Shotgun Houses” because a bullet, if shot through the front front door would exit the back door through all the doorways that are symmetrically aligned.

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Wherever I have traveled to, I make an effort to learn about the country and their history, both good and bad. Every country had a segment of society that witnessed oppression and there are many societies that are still being oppressed. I have always felt the need to learn about these situations although I do not dwell on it too long. Historically speaking, from where the world was centuries ago, humankind is making progress. Baby steps at first and hoping to be at full speed one day, but not in my lifetime. I am a realist.

___________________

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow

‘Pride’ U2
In front of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Home

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🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

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