Visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic site is an educational and inspiring experience for Atlantans and people from all over the world. On our recent visit, we learned about the life of Dr. King, about the community where King lived, and the lasting legacy he left behind. Here are four tips for your next visit:
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Start at the Visitor Center
Pick up a brochure and get information at the desk here. There are video documentaries and exhibits at the center as well. When we visited, we watched a documentary on the contributions of teenagers to the Civil Rights movement, and we browsed the “Children of Courage” exhibit, an exhibit created for younger visitors. Visit the Reflecting Pool and the tombs of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King directly across the street from the Visitor’s Center.
See Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and King’s Boyhood Home
The sanctuary where Martin Luther King, Jr. served as pastor, restored to its 1960s appearance, is located across the street and adjacent to the Visitor’s Center. Imagine the rousing Sunday sermons Martin Luther King gave at this small, historic church.
About a block away from Ebenezer Baptist Church, visit King’s boyhood home, restored to the 1930s. The informative and friendly National Park rangers will provide background on King’s childhood and a tour of the first floor of the home. We were struck by the rangers’ stories of King’s typical childhood—he spent most of his childhood playing baseball outdoors. Like kids often do, he got himself into trouble once in a while; one time he even dressed in a superman cape, jumped off the porch roof, and broke his arm!
Tours last about 30 minutes, are free, and are first-come, first-served. Visit early in the week or on Sunday mornings to avoid a long wait.
Learn about the Sweet Auburn Historic District
A block between King’s boyhood home and Ebenezer Baptist church, explore the Historic Fire Station No. 6 at the corner of Boulevard and Auburn Avenue. The station has a restored 1920s fire engine and interactive exhibits on fire history. We enjoyed an engaging video on what famous civic and political leader, John Wesley Dobbs, once called the “richest Negro street in the world” –the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta. We learned about the business people and cultural icons who contributed to the vibrancy of the neighborhood.
Consider Taking Marta or the Atlanta Streetcar
The King Memorial Marta station is an easy 10-12 minute walk to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic site. The Atlanta Streetcar has a very convenient stop near the MLK site; you can hop on and off to visit Centennial Olympic Park, Sweet Auburn Curb market and other attractions on the streetcar line, too.
– Laura Powell
Want to learn more about the heritage and contributions of African-Americans in Atlanta? Read our story on celebrating black history in Atlanta and where to road trip for more historical sites around the South.