As a teenager living in Europe, I had an opportunity to learn about World War II firsthand, from a tour of Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam to standing among thousands of white crosses overlooking the beaches of Normandy. But the most human experience of all was visiting the Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany where more than 32,000 men, women, and children were murdered by Nazis. How anyone could hate another human being based upon the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or any other physical trait or philosophy is beyond me. In Atlanta, the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site provided a similar human experience, reinforcing that all people should be judged for the content of their character, and not the color of their skin.
Created by legislation signed by President Carter in late 1980, the only US President who never dropped a bomb and never went to war, this national historic site continues to promote peaceful approaches to change in our country and honors one of the world’s greatest civil rights leaders. There is no fee to visit the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, including MLK’s birth home and the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Some of My Favorite Things:
- Children of Courage exhibit. Geared toward younger children, like my 4th grader who traveled with us to Atlanta, this exhibit helps kids understand the humiliating unfairness of segregation and appreciate the courage of the children who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.
- Peaceful protest. Inspired by India’s Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr focused on peaceful protests. On the surface, peaceful protest sounds easy, but I believe it’s much harder than it seems. Imagine continuing to stand your ground for peaceful protest, rather than fight back, when you’re a young black woman sitting at a whites only lunch counter while other patrons shout obscenities at you, pour hot coffee in your lap, or slap you. Imagine staying calm and not fighting back as a young black student when police turn water cannons and attack dogs on you.
A Bit Disappointing:
- No tickets left to tour MLK’s birth home. Although I knew better from my research prior to our trip, once we were in Atlanta, I failed to remember to get to the historic site early enough in the day to score tickets to his birth home.
- Rose garden not in bloom. The “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden, one of six major World Peace Rose Gardens around the world, looks gorgeous in all the photos I’ve seen. Sadly, it was not in bloom in mid-February when we visited.
What about you? Have you visited the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
A few tips for your visit:
- The site is spread over several city blocks, so be sure to pick up a map at the Visitor’s Center so you don’t miss anything.
- If you want to visit Martin Luther King Jr’s birth home, be sure to arrive early to pick up one of the free, but limited, tickets for that ranger-led tour.
Don’t just take my word for it, here’s what a few other bloggers had to say about the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site.