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Martin Luther King Center

Thursday, July 3, 2008 0 comments

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in a two-story Queen Anne style house at 501 Auburn Avenue, in a neighborhood known as Sweet Auburn.
The house has a one-story partial front and side porch with scroll cut woodwork trim, two porthole windows, a shingled gabled end, and a side bay. The porch sits on an enclosed brick foundation. Dr. King was born in an upstairs middle room on January 15, 1929 and lived here until 1941. The Ebenezer Baptist Church, where for eight years he shared the pulpit with his father, is a short walk away at the corner of Auburn Avenue and Jackson Street. It is a three-story red brick building detailed in stone and has several groupings of stained glass windows.

Construction of the church began in 1914 and was completed in 1922. Across from the church at 449 Auburn is the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc., which continues King's legacy and work. King's gravesite occupies most of the cleared lot east of the Ebenezer Baptist Church to Boulevard Street.

In 1976 a memorial park was installed around the marble crypt. The park consists primarily of a brick and concrete plaza with arch-covered walkway and chapel partially surrounding a reflecting pool. In the center of the pool, on a raised pedestal rests the King crypt. On it is engraved the inscription: "Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929-1968, 'Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I'm free at last." This National Historic Landmark historic district is also featured in our We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement travel itinerary.

The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site, administered by the National Park Service, includes King's birth home, church and grave. The National Park Service's Visitor Center, at 450 Auburn Ave. features exhibits about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement.

Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., was born on April 27, 1927 in Marion, Alabama. She received her B.A. in music from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. In 1953, Coretta Scott King married Dr. King. They had four children together: Yolanda, Martin Luther III, Dexter, and Bernice. In September 1954, the Kings moved to Montgomery, Alabama where Dr. King became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. After Dr. King became involved in the Montgomery bus boycott, he became a central leader in the civil rights movement. While he traveled around the country promoting the cause of civil rights, Coretta King was busy raising their children.

After Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, Coretta King worked toward the fulfillment of her husband’s goal for equality and social justice. Just days after his murder, she participated in the Poor Peoples Campaign, which had been Dr. King’s last protest effort. In furtherance of her newfound occupation, Coretta King traveled the world speaking out against social injustice, co-founded organizations such as the Black Leadership Forum and the Black Leadership Roundtable, and continued her involvement in organized demonstrations. One of her greatest achievements came with her leadership in creating a holiday to honor Dr. King. Her effort was finally realized in 1986 when Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday.

In 1968, King founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. The King Center promotes Dr. King’s legacy of equal, justice, nonviolence and peace.On January 31, 2008, King passed away at the age of 78. Her and her husband lay to rest together at the King Memorial.

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