ATLANTA -- The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta will commemorate its 30thAnniversary on Sunday, October 10, 2010 with a community celebration, free and open to everyone. The event will take place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and will transport guests back to the 1930s, the period when Dr. King was a young boy and learned, played and worshipped in the Auburn Avenue neighborhood.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site has been one of Atlanta’s most visited destinations for many years, with more than 700,000 people from around the world enjoying the experience in 2009.
“The park uniquely blends historical significance with an urban environment, and that has been one of its appeals for 30 years,” said Judy Forte, superintendent of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and Preservation District. “The lovingly restored homes and buildings transport visitors back through time and reconnect them with critical social and cultural events. The park and its surroundings enable people to feel the presence of Dr. King, his family and his neighbors in a special way.”
At the October 10th celebration, all key destinations in the park will be open, with the exception of the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, which currently is under renovation. This celebration also will include the grand re-opening of the museum bookstore and gift shop (managed by Eastern National), which recently relocated from Historic Fire Station No.6 into one of the newly restored Birth Home block historic dwellings at 497 Auburn Avenue. Dr. Christine King-Farris and her daughter, Ms. Angela Farris-Watkins, will host book signings.
The park will be alive with the sounds, activities and stories of the 1930s, much like Dr. King and his family and friends would have experienced. “People will hear and see what Dr. King heard and saw when he was a child living in the community – the music, the games, the neighbors, the churches, the streets, and the stories,” said Ms. Forte.
The music of the 1930s, played from vintage 78 rpm vinyl, will lead guests from one activity to the next. Storytellers in period attire, historic newspapers, vintage automobiles and bicycles, long-time community residents, popcorn, children’s games of the 1920s and 1930s, and multi-media exhibits will fill the park. Although his neighborhood was segregated, Dr. King as a child saw people of different social and economic backgrounds living together in harmony as he walked and played on the sidewalks and front porches of Auburn Avenue, where the 30th Anniversary celebration will be centered.
“For everyone who joins us at the celebration, the experience of reliving history for a few hours will be inspirational and educational,” Ms. Forte said. “They will learn about the history of Dr. King’s neighborhood – how it started and grew – and they also will see and feel the environment in which he lived.”
The 30th Anniversary of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and Preservation District marks a major milestone in the preservation, protection and interpretation of this important global resource.
It was established by Congress on October 10, 1980. Today the site consists of more than 38 acres -- of which 13 are federally owned by the National Park Service – and is located near downtown Atlanta. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site includes 67 historic buildings, most built between 1890 and 1910, while the preservation district surrounding the site includes nearly 230 historic structures. Important features of the National Historic Site include the tomb of Dr. King and Mrs. Coretta Scott King; Freedom Hall; Dr. King’s Birth Home and surrounding cultural landscape; Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church; Historic Fire Station No. 6; and the National Park Service Visitor Center.