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Georgia's Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site - An Overview


Georgia's Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site - An Overview
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Contact Info:

Phone: (404) 331-6922

Mail: 450 Auburn Avenue, NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30312


On January 15, 1929, a son was born to the Reverend and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Sr., in an upstairs bedroom of 501 Auburn Avenue, in Atlanta, GA. He would go on to become a prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement. His birth home and several surrounding buildings located in the Sweet Auburn historic district of Atlanta would be established as a national historic site on October 10, 1980. Each building had significant meaning to Dr. King and are critical components in the interpretation of his life of legacy.


Born in 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and graduated from Morehouse College as an ordained Baptist minister in 1948 at the age of 19. In June of 1953, he married Correta Scott King and went on to earn a doctorate in theology from Boston University in 1955.

Dr. King, Jr. became the face of the Civil Rights Movement in 1955 when Montgomery civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to obey the city's rules mandating segregation on buses. On December 5, 1955, black residents carried out a bus boycott and elected Dr. King, Jr. as president of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association. While gaining national attention, he and other southern black ministers founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 and emphasized the goal voting rights for blacks.

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his most famous speech, "I Have a Dream," in Washington, DC. His words have remained just as powerful today as they did during the Civil Rights Movement.

"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be engulfed, every hill shall be exalted and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

Dr. King, Jr. was shot and killed on April 4, 1968, outside his motel room in Memphis where he was taking part in a garbage-workers' strike. In 1986, Congress proclaimed a national holiday in his honor to be observed on the third Monday in January each year. In 1974, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birth Home and other areas by Irwin, Randolph, Edgewood, Jackson, and Auburn Avenues were listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on May 2, 1974. Some or all of the area was designated a national historic landmark district on May 5, 1977 and later the site became a national historic site on October 10, 1980.

When to Visit:

The park is open year-round with exception to Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. Winter operation hours start mid-August and last through mid-June. The park opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. Thirty-minute tours of Dr. King, Jr.'s Birth Home begin at 10 a.m. and are conducted every hour with the last tour for the day at 5 p.m.

Summer operation hours run mid-June through mid-August and the park is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The first tour of Dr. King's Birth Home begins at 9:30 a.m. and the last tour is 5:30 p.m.

Getting There:

Those traveling on Interstate 75/85 North or South should take exit #248C Freedom Parkway. Turn right onto Boulevard NE, and make another immediate right turn onto John Wesley Dobbs Avenue. The visitor parking lot will be on the left.

If you are traveling on Interstate 20 East or West, exit at Interstate 75/85 North to take exit #248C Freedom Parkway. From there, directions are same as above. Visitor parking will be on the left and bus parking is located on either side of John Wesley Dobbs Avenue.

Major Attractions:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Visitor Center: Stop here for a brief orientation to the historic site, how to sign up for a Birth Home tour, video programs and other exhibits. The "Children of Courage" exhibit is geared towards our younger visitors and tells the story about the children of the Civil Rights Movement. Other exhibits include "Courage To Lead" which follows the parallel paths of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement and "Freedom Road".


There are no fees or permits necessary for admission or parking. Most tours are self-guided but registration is necessary to tour the Birth Home of Dr. King, Jr. Only 15 persons are permitted on a tour and spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis so be sure to arrive early. Groups may reserve up to three spaces (45 persons) the day of their tour. For tours, register at the Visitor Center Information Desk.

Education programs are also available and requests may be emailed to the Education Coordinator.

King Birth Home: Visit the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929. The King family lived in the house, which is comprised of two levels, until 1941. The first level includes the front porch, parlor, study, dining room, kitchen, laundry, bedroom and a bathroom. The second level includes four bedrooms and a bathroom.

Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church: It was here where Martin Luther King, Jr. was baptized. He went on to give a trial sermon to the congregation at the age of 19 and was ordained as a minister. In 1960, Dr. King, Jr. became a co-pastor of Ebenezer with his father, known as "Daddy" King. Dr. King, Jr. remained in that position until his death in 1968.

The King Center: Here, visitors can learn about The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc. established by Mrs. Coretta Scott King in 1968, as well as visit the final resting place of Dr. King, Jr. Exhibits on Coretta Scott King and Mahatma Gandhi are also located here.

International Civil Rights Walk of Fame: Created in 2004, the walk includes footsteps, marked in granite and bronze that pay homage to those who sacrificed and struggled to make equality a reality. Some footsteps include those of President William Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Thurgood Marshall, and Rosa Parks.


There are no accommodations inside the historic site but visitors can find many hotels, motels, and inns in the Atlanta area.

Areas of Interest Outside the Park:

Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area: This area includes a series of recreational and historic sites along a 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River, north of Atlanta. Nine park units offer 50 miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, fishing and boating and raft rental. For more information, call 678-538-1200.

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park: This park preserves the sites of the Civil War battles of Kolb's Farm, June 22, 1864, and Kennesaw Mountain, June 27, 1864. Located in Kennesaw, GA, just west of Marietta, it may be reached via I-75 and the Barrett Parkway. Activities include hiking, scenic drives, and picnicking. Call 770-427-4686 for more information.

Andersonville National Historic Site: Check out the largest Confederate military prison established during the Civil War. The site includes a national cemetery with more than 17,000 graves. Driving audio tours, interpretive talks, and visual orientations are available to visitors. Call 229-924-0343 for more information.

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