Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., requires little introduction. He is one of the most critical figures in American history, and in fewer than 13 years was able to achieve more progress toward equality than ever before. He is regarded as a principle advocate for non-violence in America, as well as one of the greatest non-violent leaders in world history.
Dr. King drew inspiration from his faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi; from these inspirations he lead a non-violent movement in the late 1950s and 1960s to achieve lawful equality for African-Americans in the United States. Dr. King used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests and civil disobedience, to achieve these seemingly impossible goals. His “I Have a Dream” speech, Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” are among the most revered orations and writings in the English language.
Visitors to Atlanta can several memorals and historic sites that celebrate Dr. King's life and work. Start at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service), which works in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
Begin your tour by following the Civil Rights Walk of Fame ...
... where you'll walk past a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Head east and you will reach Auburn Avenue. On this street many prominent black-owned businesses began and many hours were spent working toward a brighter future for African-Americans. Although Sweet Auburn Historic District is only a few blocks, its significance to the city is monumental. Take a stroll along this street and you will immerse yourself in a neighborhood filled with history, culture, and southern hospitality.
Some major historic sites you need to make sure to stop by in this area are:
Dr. & Mrs. King’s Crypt
After Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, he was carried upon a farm wagon drawn by mules to be laid to rest at the Southview Cemetery. In 1970, his remains were removed from the Southview Cemetery to the King Center Campus. The crypt is constructed of Georgia Marble, a tribute to his southern roots.
The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame symbolizes the continuing effort to realize Dr. King’s dream of the “Beloved Community,” which was his vision for a world of justice, peace and equality for all mankind.
Freedom Hall is an exhibition featuring works of art from Africa and Georgia. As well, the second floor is an exhibit honoring Dr. and Mrs. King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Rosa parks.
Dr. King’s Birth Home
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January, 15, 1929 at 501 Auburn Avenue NE in Atlanta, Georgia — the home of his maternal grandparents. For the next twelve years he lived here with his grandparents, parents, siblings, other family members and boarders. The home is located in the residential section of “Sweet Auburn,” the center of black Atlanta.
Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Heritage Sanctuary), 407 Auburn Avenue, NE
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as co-pastor at Ebeneezer Baptist from 1947 until he left to attend Crozer Theological Seminary in September 1948, and then again from 1960 until his assassination in 1968. The church was restored to the 1960 — 1968 appearance in 2011.
Other important Martin Luther King Jr. sites to see in Atlanta are:
Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpture
Located on Freedom Parkway, this is one of Atlanta's most recognizable sculptures. This poignant monument is a daily inspiration to the city known as the cultural catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement.
After Dr. King graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, he was admitted into Morehouse College (at the age of 15).
The accomplishments and speeches of Dr. King are now taught to all American children, and studied by many scholars and students. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is the only non-president to have a nationally holiday dedicated in his honor. And in his honor we celebrate his great accomplishments and teachings this third Monday of January.