It is the third Monday in January, a date set aside to honor one of the greatest civil rights activists in the history of the United States – Martin Luther King Jr. First celebrated on January 20, 1986, this date is now officially observed in all states.
If you are in the neighborhood, a great place to reflect on the life and works of Martin Luther King Jr. and his contemporaries is at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Georgia.
About Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
Comprising over 30 acres of land east of downtown Atlanta, it is located in what is known as the Sweet Auburn Historic District – a National Historic Landmark District. It is here, in this historically African-American neighborhood, that you will find Martin Luther King, Jr.’s boyhood home, the church where he was baptized and his father was a pastor, and historic Fire Station No. 6.
You can learn more about Dr. King at the national park visitor center, as well as at The King Center, the final resting place for both King and his wife.
Visiting Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
As always, the place to start is the visitor center. The entire park visit is self-guided with the exception of the ranger-led tour of King’s birth house. If you want to do this, you’ll need to sign up at the visitor center. Be sure to do this as soon as you arrive, and then enjoy the exhibits and watch the movie. This is a great way to brush up on your MLK history as well as the history of the civil rights movement from Birmingham to Selma to Atlanta…
From there, you can walk through the International World Peace Rose Garden and past the reflecting pool, King’s tomb and the eternal flame. At the end of the reflecting pool, stop by Freedom Hall – a testament not only to the King’s, but also to Ghandi and Rosa Parks. The hall regularly hosts special events and programs associated with civil rights and social justice.
Don’t leave the area without visiting the Ebenezer Baptist Church where you can hear some of Dr. King’s famous speeches and sermons; visit his neighborhood and see his birth home.
Be sure to stop by the historic Fire Station No. 6 and check out all the old photos and equipment. Not only do you get a sense for how the fire department was slowly desegregated, you can also see how fire-fighting equipment has evolved.
What surprised us most was how big the park was. This is not one that you will take in with just an hour. There is easily a half day or more.
About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Take the time to learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Although a household name, we did not know as much as we thought we did! Did you know that King was the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964? Or that he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Jimmy Carter, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004? King was even named Time’s “Person of the Year” in 1963 and placed second in Gallup’s list of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. As you visit the exhibits at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site you will be reminded why.
Assassinated at the age of just 39, the world lost a great leader. As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day, it is a good day to reflect on this man and his dream.
Need Help Planning Your Visits?
If you would like to explore this or other National Park Units, but need a bit help in the planning, please give us a call at (480) 609-3978. We are happy to offer customized trip planning.