Arm Chair Road Trip Day 15: MLK’s Sweet Auburn

September 18, 2020 — 2 Comments

auburn street

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Day 15 was our last day in Atlanta. After picking up Mtuseni from church, we headed to the birthplace and resting place of Martin Luther King, Jr. — the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.

Not far from the shiny towers of downtown, the tree-lined street has humble, well-kept wood frame houses with porches and picket fences. It seemed a little crazy to just park on the street like we were going to pop in to someone’s house for coffee and cobbler — when we were visiting the home of a renowned leader. But it’s the same at JFK’s birthplace in Brookline. Actually, the street reminds me of Brookline a little.  

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king plaque

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Martin Luther King Juniors birthplace house in Atlanta

MLK’s birthplace. Who could have imagined the life this sweet little house would produce.

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The house offered timed tours but neither of us was that interested; it’s basically an old house. But we did browse the gift shop on the first floor and picked up some souvenirs on the way back. 

Just about a block down the street is the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Sr. and his son had preached. I could imagine the family just walking from home to the church, waving and chatting with people sitting on their porches along the way. 

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Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia

Ebenezer Baptist, the original church where MLK — and his father before him — preached.

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Ebenezer Baptist Church neon sign in Atlanta Georgia

I love old neon signs. This one is pure and simple — don’t need more for a church!

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A block down from the church is the museum and the newer Ebenezer Baptist. The museum is well done with artifacts and timelines. It’s amazing how much impact MLK had at such a young age.

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Martin Luther King Junior National Historical Park sign

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Mtuseni was engrossed in the civil rights history exhibits. He has a unique perspective with South Africa’s experience of apartheid — there are similarities and differences in both situations. Yet there’s still so much work to be done in South Africa. I’ve come to realize through my years with Mtuseni how deep the scars of apartheid run. 

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timeline

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Wagon that carried Martin Luther King Junior's coffin.

The wagon that carried MLK’s coffin during services.

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Tomb of Martin Luther King Junior and Coretta Scott King in Atlanta, Georgia

The tomb of Martin and Coretta is in a long reflecting pool painted bright blue. It’s garish and distracting; a quieter, neutral color would be more fitting and respectful.

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The contemporary Ebenezer Church was closed for services. Looking through the photos of this day recently, I saw that Mtuseni had taken photos inside the church. I asked how he was able to do that — and when. He said that he went inside after the service ended, and I was probably looking for a bathroom. Haha… that sounds about right!

After the museum we headed back to my friend’s house to just hang and eat takeout. It was nice to relax and avoid hotels (and those damn waffle machines!) We were recharged and ready for the next stage of our swing through the South…. music and history!

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2 responses to Arm Chair Road Trip Day 15: MLK’s Sweet Auburn

  1. 

    These are great to read. But what do you have against waffle machines?

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    • 

      The whole concept is gross and wasteful. They make waffles the size of hubcaps — and most people didn’t eat half of theirs. And they are in every hotel buffet. I never used them. I only ate a waffle once — at the Waffle House.

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