Today we visited the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. Unfortunately, his childhood home, a hallmark of the center, was closed for repairs. Although we could not tour the house, our group went to take pictures in front of the house. It was a beautiful yellow home and a little larger than I expected, but I suppose it makes sense because King’s father was a very prominent pastor. After visiting Dr. King's childhood home, we went to go view the mausoleum of him and his wife Coretta Scott King. The mausoleum was large and beautiful set on a bed of water. The mausoleum also features an eternal flame in honor of Dr. King and his wife Coretta. After visiting the mausoleum, we went to Ebenezer Baptist Church. Once in the sanctuary we could hear the voice of Dr. King giving a sermon. His sermon was about a humble man who was great but never did any of the stereotypical things associated with greatness. This man never visited any large cities and never "traveled more than 200 miles from where he was born." King told the congregation that by the end of the sermon they would know who he was talking about. I believe the man he was talking about was Jesus Christ.
After going to the church, I returned to the King center to check out the exhibits. The exhibits were primarily pictures and videos, but there was one with sculptures of people marching. This exhibit was particularly powerful because the sculptures were so life like. I distinctly remember a sculpture of a white teen marching with his younger sister. He had a very focused look on his face and his sister stared up at him with admiration. During the exhibit I learned a lot about how Gandhi's nonviolent marches in India served to inspire King and other African American leaders to lead the civil rights movement with non-violence. While going through the exhibits I was saddened to learn that Dr. King's mother Alberta King was killed while playing the organ in the Ebenezer church I had just visited. This visit also helped me to better understand the institution of segregation and how it was used to instill a sense of inferiority into African Americans to more easily subject them to the economic will of white individuals. I learned about the Poor People's marched that Dr. King was organizing in 1968 shortly before his death. Although we could not tour King's childhood home this visit was an amazing experience and invaluable learning experience. While many of the pieces in the exhibits made me sad, they also instilled in me a sense of pride in that I am a part of a race of people which refused to believe the blatant lie spewed by American society that people of color are inferior to whites. They not only refused to accept the societal norms of segregation and degradation, but they put their lives on the line daily to ensure that our country lived up to its creed that "all men are created equal.”
To end our day, we visited the International Center for Human and Civil Rights where we spoke with Dr. Bernard Lafayette. Dr. Bernard Lafayette is a civil rights activist and organizer who played a vital role in the freedom rides of 1961 and worked with Dr. Martin Luther King and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to organize marches in Selma. Today was a great day and I learned a ton more than I could’ve imagined.
P.S I’ve also had the best food so far on the trip at the soul food restaurant Mary Mac’s Tea Room.