by Brooke Obie
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy continues to impact social consciousness around the world. In the almost 50 years since his assassination on April 4, 1968, his widow, Coretta Scott King, has championed efforts to continue the vision of the drum major for justice, peace and righteousness. There is much more to know about this American civil rights icon than his famous, "I Have a Dream Speech." .
Historic sites in his hometown, Atlanta, Georgia, reveal more about what he stood for and his vision for America.Take a trip in pictures to the place where Dr. King was born, lived, marched and preached for peace, economic justice and civil rights.
On January 15, 1929, on the second floor of this Queen Anne-style house in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. The middle child of Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King, he lived here with his older sister and younger brother until he was 12 years old. Today, his childhood home is a part of the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site, and is maintained by the National Parks Service.
In 1944, at the remarkable age of 15, Dr. King was accepted and enrolled at Morehouse College, a famous historically Black college in Atlanta, less than 5 miles away from his childhood home. He graduated with a Bachelor's degree in sociology in 1948. In 1957, Morehouse granted him his first honorary degree. He became a visiting professor teaching philosophy at the college in 1960 and he became a trustee of the school in 1965, after he had received the Nobel Peace Prize. Just three years later, his body would be carried from his childhood home to Morehouse in a funeral procession. In 1978, the largest religious memorial to King was built on campus, the Martin Luther King, Jr., International Chapel. Today, there is also a statue of King in the King Chapel plaza.
Just blocks away from his childhood home is the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Martin Luther King, Sr., affectionately known as "Daddy King," preached at this church for over 40 years and his mother Alberta played the organ. In 1948, the same year that he graduated from Morehouse, King also became an ordained minister and the associate pastor at Ebenezer. He co-pastored the church with his father for 8 years and gave some of his most famous sermons here, including his last sermon, "The Drum Major Instinct," in February 1968, which would go on to serve as his eulogy at the church just two months later. Six years after her son's assassination, Alberta King was also assassinated while playing the organ during morning worship at Ebenezer Baptist Church on July 1, 1974. She was 70 years old.
To the east of the Ebenezer Baptist Church is the gravesite of Coretta and Dr. King. The marble crypt is surrounded by a reflecting pool. King's famous quote "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I'm free at last" is inscribed on the tomb.
Across from the crypt and the reflecting pool is the Eternal Flame, a small blaze that remains lit in all weather. It "symbolizes the continuing effort to realize Dr. King's ideals for the 'Beloved Community'" racial, economic and social justice. The everlit flame means that the fight must continue, despite any obstacles that may arise.
A few months after Dr. King was assassinated, Coretta Scott King established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as a "living memorial" to her husband's work. The non-profit's goals today continue to be that Dr. King's legacy is remembered and leveraged for positive social change around the world. More than a million people visit the King Center annually and learn from the exhibits presented on the life and legacies of Martin and Coretta.
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