Yesterday in Part I, we explored the national Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. Today we explore the Martin Luther King National Historic Park and The Center for Non-Violence in Atlanta, Georgia.
Covering 35 acres in center Atlanta is the King Historic Park. The park includes several buildings including a visitor center and Museum the chronicles the civil rights movement and Dr. King’s role in shaping it. The Park also includes the original Ebenezer Baptist Church where both Dr. King and his father were pastors, a peace garden, King’s boyhood home and the final resting place for Dr. King and his wife.
The elder King was pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church a short walk from the family home. The Martin Jr. sang in the choir and was known for being a remarkable singer. The church is open for visitors when not in use. Both Dr. King and his father would be pastors here. The church has a tragic past as Dr. King’s mother Alberta and one of the Senior Ministers were murdered there during a church service in 1974. The killer was mentally deranged and the murders were not racially motivated.
Martin Luther King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta his Junior year in high school. He received a theological degree from Crozer Seminary and later a Ph.D. from Boston University. Strongly influenced by the writings of Mahatma Gandhi on the subject of civil disobedience, King began to apply these principles to the burgeoning civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. King won the Nobel Prize in 1964 for his work in non-violent resistance.
King led the successful boycott of the Montgomery Alabama bus network after Rosa Parks ignited protests for refusing to give up her seat to a white patron. this led to several prominent boycotts and peaceful protests against segregation, institutional poverty and eventually the war in Vietnam. At the time of his death, King had been planning a March on Washington D.C. to protest the war. He also said he was considering a call for black men to resist the draft when he was assassinated in Memphis on April 4th, 1968.
Much like the killing of John F Kennedy, the shooting of Dr. King is encompassed with conspiracy theories. James Earl Ray who was convicted for King’s murder always claimed he was a “patsy” and that King was actually killed by the FBI who were afraid that King might endanger the war effort and stir up animosity towards the capitalistic status quo. King spoke harshly of what he considered “vulture capitalism” and many conservative writers and thinkers have actually accused King of being a communist sympathizer. in 1976 in sworn testimony before Congress, the FBI director admitted they had no direct link of Dr. King being a communist supporter.