Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Part II: The King Historic Park and center for Nonviolence

Scroll down to content

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.

kh
The park includes a preservation district that includes King’s childhood home and many houses around it. 
cs1
I like this quote. The Center serves not only to honor Dr. King’s work but to continue his legacy. 
kh17
The museum covers King’s life and highlights of the struggle for equality for African-Americans. 
kh11
It is in this house that Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929. He was originally given the name Michael but his father changed both his name and his son’s name to Martin in 1934. The impetus of the name change was his father visit to Germany in the 1930s and seeing the rise of Nazism.  The elder King was inspired by the German Reformation leader Martin Luther and made the name change as a tribute. Martin was the middle child of three. The House offers free tours but the size is limited to it is recommended you sign up in advance.

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.

kh2
The church is still often used for special services but most worship services are held in a newer building close by. 
kh1
Church Sanctuary
kh16
Dais and Podium. The interior was completely remodeled in 2001 to look as it did at the time that King Jr. was a pastor here. 
kh6
The church has richly ornate stained glass windows
kh4
The Church was founded in 1886. Originally with only 8 members, the church grew substantially Dr the King family’s tenure. 
kh3
Ebenezer Baptist Church new church building is about a block away from the historic original structure. 
kh14
The statue shows an African tradition of holding a newborn child to the heavens this is often accompanied with reciting “Behold, the one thing greater than yourself.”
kh8
Frontal view of the statue

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.

kh10
Portrait and below a statue of Mahatma Gandhi

 

kh12

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.

kh5
The bodies of Dr. King and his wife are interred at the King Center. The graves are surrounded by a large reflecting pool. 

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.

kh15
It is sadly ironic that a man who preached and taught non-violence would be the impetus of rioting after his murder. But there were many riots across the country in April of 1968. Eventually, the rage subsided and the world began to ponder the world King left behind. The sight doesn’t just include memorials to Dr. King, but also the King Center for Non-violent Social Change which focus on finding ways to apply his message to the generations to come. 

kh9

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: