Six Cities to Explore Martin Luther King’s History

Lists: From Atlanta to Washington, D.C., Larry Bleiberg highlights the must-see places where the civil rights leader lived and made history

01.18.10 | 1:19 PM ET

Photo of Lorraine Motel/National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis by Victor Chapa, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

No other name is so closely linked to the civil rights movement. A civil-rights traveler can visit the movement’s most important sites just by touring the cities where Martin Luther King Jr. lived and made history.

Atlanta, Georgia

King’s story begins and ends in Atlanta. Visit the National Park Service’s King site, his home pulpit, and his gravesite. No city is so closely linked to King as his hometown, Atlanta. There are literally hundreds of King sites here.

But to understand the scope of King’s legacy, one only need visit the National Park Service’s Martin Luther King Historic Site. Exhibits expertly capture King’s era and follow him from childhood to his historic role on the international stage. Introductory films offer a moving biography along with excerpts from his most famous speeches.

The visitors center anchors the entire Sweet Auburn district, once the center of Atlanta’s African-American life. Affiliated sites include King’s home pulpit, Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was baptized and his father and grandfather both served as pastor.

The King Center includes exhibits on his wife, Coretta Scott, and Mahatma Gandhi, whose philosophy of non-violent protest inspired King. King and his wife are buried here in a moving memorial, surrounded by water. At anytime, find visitors from around the world pausing to meditate on his legacy and courage.

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Larry Bleiberg is the creator of Based in Birmingham, Alabama, he served on a Pulitzer Prize team, and was honored for producing the best newspaper travel section in North America. He has been published around the world, and his work has been cited in volumes as varied as "The Everything Creative Writing Book" and "The Dangerous World of Butterflies."

2 Comments for Six Cities to Explore Martin Luther King’s History

daniel 01.19.10 | 2:04 AM ET

I would add Chicago to this list, arguably the site of his greatest failure.

Larry Bleiberg 01.20.10 | 11:02 AM ET

Good suggestion. King said that he had never seen resistance like he had in Chicago. Said it was worse than anything he had seen in the Deep South. The Chicago Tribune just ran a good overview, including video:

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