This blog post was updated on January 26, 2023.
On the third Monday of January, we in the U.S. observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a federal holiday. You probably learned about this day in elementary school and the reason everyone had the day off. But how much do you really know about the man and the cause he dedicated himself to?
On MLK Day, we honor the man who dedicated his life to the civil rights movement in the United States. Visiting the historical places where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born, led movements, and was tragically assassinated is both educating and inspiring.
If you find yourself down south in the U.S. on this recognized day or any other day of the year, then you should definitely check out the historical places listed below to enrich your understanding of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy.
Dr. King’s Birth Home – Atlanta
The house at 501 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta was once the home of one of the greatest leaders of our time. Take a tour and see where Dr. King was born and spent the first 12 years of his life. Tours are on a first-come-first-served basis. Upon entry, you’ll see that the home has been restored to look as it did when King resided there. The tour will take you upstairs to the location where Dr. King was born on January 15, 1929. Put this first on your list MLK tour list if you’d prefer to follow his life from the very beginning.
Related: A Guide to Martin Luther King’s Montgomery, Alabama
Ebenezer Baptist Church – Atlanta
Ebenezer Baptist Church is a historic place of worship, where Martin Luther King Jr. served as co-pastor, making the church the spiritual center of the civil rights movement from 1960 to 1968. Dr. King’s father and grandfather also served as pastors here prior to and during his service as co-pastor. It’s certainly a place for you to put on your MLK tour list as it’s where King served as reverend until his funeral, which was also held here.
The King Center – Atlanta
The King Center was established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, and is also referred to as the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. This museum, memorial, and educational center is dedicated to the beloved civil rights leader and his cause. The King Center holds important memorabilia, including King’s Bible, a handwritten sermon, and the key to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where he was assassinated. You can find the world’s largest collection of books on the civil rights movement in the library here. You can also visit the final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., located outside in Freedom Plaza with an epitaph from his “I Have a Dream” Speech: “Free at Last. Free at Last. Thank God Almighty I’m Free at Last.”
Dexter Parsonage Museum – Montgomery, Alabama
The Dexter Parsonage Museum stands on the site of the home to King and his young family between 1954 and 1960 in Montgomery, Alabama. On your tour, you’ll see the same furniture that MLK and his wife Coretta Scott King filled their house with. You’ll also visit the study where King would prepare for his Sunday sermons. The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church is where King first preached as a young pastor. Both locations hold a strong history of MLK’s effect on the civil rights movement.
National Civil Rights Museum – Memphis
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated as he stepped out onto his balcony at the Lorraine Motel. This site later became the National Civil Rights Museum. Located in Memphis, Tennessee, the museum mainly focuses on the struggles of African-American freedom and equality. As you tour, you’ll come across a few rooms from the hotel that were left as they were during King’s time.
Have you been to any of these MLK Jr. sites? Tell us about it in the comments.
Leave a Comment