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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 16: The Park and the Church of MLK

nonviolence and nonexistence!

When you get the chance to capture Dr. King’s words, you capture Dr. King’s words.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

By the time we finished our meager lunch at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum, the storm had abated for a spell. Not far down the road is Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, whose features include a Visitors Center and free parking a block away. It was a nice start to the experience.


waving metal!

Roadside MLK art spotted along the way.

Gandhi statue!

That obviously isn’t a statue of King standing outside the Visitors Center. Gandhi was among his strongest influences and honored accordingly. I won’t pretend to have an explanation for the leis.

Sidney Poitier!

Leading to the Center is an International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, with footprints of various contributors to the fight for civil rights. Sidney Poitier stuck out to me.

Sammy Davis Jr footprints!

Also on the walk was singer Sammy Davis, Jr., whom you youngsters out there should go look up.

Courage to Lead.

That Visitors Center, primarily housing a series of educational displays on civil rights history with a few artifacts from the era.

protest signs!

Sample protest signs, key tools of public expression.

marching statues!

The centerpiece is a series of statues recreating a civil rights march, with participants from multiple demographics.

MLK funeral wagon!

This wagon, once used for prayer meetings way back when, was used in Dr. King’s four-mile funeral procession as an outreach symbol.

Cross Wreath.

Apropos of his faith, a cross-shaped wreath to accompany the wagon.

Behold!

Features around the park grounds include Behold, a 1990 statue by Patrick Morelli, unveiled by Coretta Scott King herself.

flowers and poem!

A garden is decorated with poems written by local schoolchildren.

As covered in our previous chapter, on the next block over was the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. By this time the skies had resumed with light sprinkling. Though the drops were tiny and the traffic was sparse, a gentleman ran over and offered to cover Anne with his umbrella, in exchange for a voluntary donation at the end of our momentary stroll. We’re not exactly quick to toss quarters to every soul we pass, but there’s something to be said for tipping for good deeds.

Next door to the Center is Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. Founded in 1818, the church has had a number of locations throughout its run. Martin Luther King Sr. would become pastor for over forty years. His oldest son Martin Jr. was baptized there and later served as co-pastor from 1960 to 1968. However many of his son’s speeches you’ve listened to, their members were blessed to hear many, many more.

The Church remains an active congregation today, though the majority of their services appear to be at another site. At 6000 members strong, their church could absolutely beat our church at tug-of-war.

Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Our view of Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church as we walked from the King Center. We, um…we may have failed to actually walk around and look at the front of the church.

church inside!

Where the Kings who served the one true King spoke.

altar and pulpit!

Altar and pulpit.

Jesus glass art!

Up on the wall above it all.

stained glass!

Stained glass windows, naturally.

Ebenezer Baptist Church!

The pews are just pews., exact same measurements as any other, except in these seats sat those who knew the Kings, heard the Kings, worshiped with the Kings.

MLK wall quote!

…and yes, there’s a quote.

Everyone inside was, as you’d expect, nothing less than the friendliest of friendly. They provided trivia and browsing suggestions. They didn’t mind us resting for a bit in the folding chairs set up in the basement. And they have a gift shop, where I was surprised to recognize a couple of comics on their shelves — the second and third issues of a self-published series called Tuskegee Heirs, whose creators I met at C2E2 two years ago, and who were also at Dragon Con. Those comics aren’t the reason we came, but it was cool to be able to complete my set, and to see other inspired works.

To be continued!

* * * * *

[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading!]

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