Thursday, July 2, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. & Jimmy Carter-Atlanta

Since we had visited so many civil rights sites this spring, from Selma, to Montgomery, to Tuskegee, we did not want to miss the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.  And, after touring the Jimmy Carter sites in Plains, we wanted to see the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum also in Atlanta. While the two sites are connected by a trail, it took too much time to do both in one day.      
The King site covers several blocks around Auburn Avenue where he was born.  In the King Center is a model of the statue erected at the King Memorial in Washington, DC.  At the entrance of the visitor center is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, whose nonviolent strategies King studied to use in the civil rights movement.
The mural outside the visitors center traces King's life.  From his birth in 1929, through the civil rights movement, to his assassination in Memphis in 1968. 
Nanc joins the marchers on Freedom Road.  It sure seemed appropriate, as we have been marching along so many civil rights sites this year. 
Behold, a statue of Kunta Kinta baptizing his daughter Kizzy.  Kunta Kinta was an African ancestor of author Alex Haley who traced his ancestors, who were slaves, back to Africa. Haley told the story of Kunta Kinta being captured in Africa, transported to the U.S., being sold into slavery, but always striving to pass the knowledge of his African ancestry on to the next generation. 
The Ebenezer Baptist Church was the spiritual center for the King family.  From M.L. King's maternal grandfather A.D, Williams, to his father M.L.King Sr., members of his family served as pastor of the church for nearly 80 years.  During the 1960's Dr. King was the co-pastor.
As part of the national historic site the church has been renovated and is considered the Ebenezer heritage sanctuary.  A new Ebenezer church has been built across the street.  After M.L. King Jr. was assassinated, his brother A.D. became co-pastor but he died suddenly in 1969.  Tragically, in 1974 King's mother Alberta was shot and killed in the church.
Stephan Ferguson gave a park service program about the history of Ebenezer that ended with a wonderful reading of the "I Have a Dream" speech from the 1963 March on Washington.  This is not to be missed if you visit this site. He left many people with tears in their eyes.
Just down Auburn Avenue from Ebenezer at 501 is the house (on left) where Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929.  He lived there until 1941.  The house has been restored to the time of King's childhood.  Tours are available with a free ticket, but we arrived there too late.
The visitors center has several exhibits with accompanying videos following the timeline of Dr.King's role in the civil rights movement.  It goes from his time as the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery during the bus boycott in 1955 to his assassination in 1968 in Memphis.  Above is the mule wagon that was used to carry King's casket for his funeral procession.
The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Dr. King in 1964 in recognition of his use of non-violent tactics in the movement for civil rights.  He was the youngest person to receive the peace prize.  The King Center has rooms dedicated to works of Gandhi and Rosa Parks, as well as, Martin and Coretta King. 
The tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.  The King historic site is a worthwhile stop to learn about the civil rights movement.  It was a walk down memory lane for me, as many of those events happened while I lived in Atlanta.
Near the King site we were able to continue to follow the life of Jimmy Carter at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum.  These are some of the honors Carter has received, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to both Jimmy and Rosalynn in 1999, in 2006 he received a Grammy for Best Spoken Word (who knew?) and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
The museum, which starts with Jimmy's childhood in Plains, covered many of the same things we had seen there.  They do have the Presidential highchair here.
Next is an exhibit of his time at the Naval Academy, his navy career in the nuclear sub program and then his resignation from the Navy in 1953 when his father died.  The model is USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23).  Carter is the only president to serve on a nuclear sub.
There is a replica of the Oval Office as it was furnish during his Presidency.  This is something that every Presidential Library and Museum we have visited has had.
Just a few of the events that happened during his term.  From Star Wars, to the first Apple computer, to the work of Mother Teresa.
I think this is really cool.  A baseball signed by all five living Presidents; Bush, Obama, Bush, Clinton and Carter.
A big part of the Museum is dedicated to the Camp David Accords that Carter negotiated in 1978.  He served as a go between with Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for twelve days before they signed an agreement.  As a result, those two countries have not had a war since.  Carter continues to work on trying to achieve permanent Middle East peace.  The sculpture is from the famous photograph of Sadat, Begin and Carter shaking hands after the signing of the accords.
The list of achievements during his presidency speaks for itself.
In the 35 years since Jimmy Carter left the Oval Office he has worked tirelessly around the world through the Carter Center.  He has served as a monitor for elections, worked to eradicate disease, provide better housing and achieve peace for all nations.  I don't think there has been a former president in my lifetime who has used the prestige of that office for so much good.  Jimmy Carter is a great human being and a visit to his museum should be on your to do list. 

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