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10 Places That Shaped Martin Luther King Jr.’s Walk Through History – KION546

By Forrest Brown, CNN

Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised in the American South, but his dream of racial equality and social justice reverberated outside his region, across the country and around the world. And it was just not his vision that covered the world – the man himself embarked on far and distant journeys.

You can honor him on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 17)—or any other time of year—by walking in his footsteps figuratively or literally.

From his homeland in the heart of the South to unexpected destinations far beyond America’s shores, here are the places that have shaped and inspired the man:

Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia’s bustling capital is King’s birthplace and final resting place. As such, he probably has the greatest claim to his heritage and MLK-related sites.

Many of them are clustered at MLK Jr. National Historic Park in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of downtown Atlanta. Interior tours of park buildings are temporarily suspended per CDC guidelines (effective Jan. 11), but you’re still free to take a self-guided exterior tour, including the graves of MLK and Coretta Scott King.

Some of the highlights include:

– Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church: This is where MLK was baptized and where he co-pastored with his father from 1960. It has been beautifully restored inside and out to as it was in the 1960s and is an ideal place for prayer and quiet reflection. 407 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30312; +1 404 688 7300

—MLK Birth Home: You can still see the exterior of the two-story house where MLK grew up, when Sweet Auburn was the epicenter of African-American life in Atlanta. 501 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30312; +1 404 331-5190

– The King Center: Coretta Scott King established the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in 1968. Nearly one million people visited each year before the pandemic to learn about the public and private lives of the Kings and pay homage to them. on their graves, the reflecting pool and the eternal flame. 449 Auburn Ave. NE, Atlanta, GA 30312; +1 404 526 8900

A few miles away, the prestigious Morehouse College is King’s alma mater. (In fact, MLK Jr. was one of many King family men to attend college there). The campus grounds are a nice place to walk where the college kid walked. 830 Westview Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30314; +1 404 215 2608

Memphis, TN

For a city of this size, Memphis has an outsized influence on the musical, cultural and political history of the country. The United States was in turmoil and marred by violence when King came to Memphis in March 1968 to support striking sanitation workers.

King and his group had reservations at the Lorraine Motel, a safe and welcoming place to stay for black travelers at the time. On April 4, King was standing on the balcony outside room 306 when he was shot and killed.

Today, Lorraine is the site of the National Civil Rights Museum, where you can learn about the history of civil rights and see the room where the man who changed America spent his last hours of life . On Bank Holiday Monday, the museum will open at limited capacity for extended hours and admission will be free for all guests. Reservations required. 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN 38103; +1 901 521 9699

If you also want to eat where King often broke bread, visit soul food restaurant The Four Way. Open since 1946, it serves Southern favorites like fried chicken, turnip greens, and lemon meringue pie (considered an MLK favorite). 998 Mississippi Blvd., Memphis, TN 38126; + 1 901 507 1519

Montgomery, Alabama

It’s hard to overstate the impact of King’s time in Alabama’s segregated capital in the mid-1950s. His coordination of the long-running bus strike after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat placed him on the national and international map.

Today, Montgomery has many must-see civil rights attractions, including:

– The National Outdoor Memorial for Peace and Justice, which explores the history of lynching, Jim Crow laws and more. 417 Caroline St, Montgomery, AL 36104; +1 334 386 9100

— The indoor Legacy Museum, about 1.6 km from the memorial. It is located on a site where black people were forced to work in servitude. 400 N. Court St, Montgomery, AL 36104; + 1 334-386-9100

Both were founded by the Equal Justice Initiative and will be open Monday for MLK Day.

— The Rosa Parks Museum at the University of Troy. 252 Montgomery Street, Montgomery, AL 36104; +1 334-241-8615.

You can also see the exteriors of these King-specific sites:

— Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church: This church was founded in 1877 in a slave trader’s compound and was originally called Second Colored Baptist Church. King served as its pastor from 1954 to 1960. It was from there that he planned the bus boycott and other efforts to dismantle segregation. 454 Dexter Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104; +1 334 263 3970

— Dexter Parsonage Museum: This is the wooden house where King lived — and which was bombed several times during the civil rights struggle. 309 S Jackson St, Montgomery, AL 36104; +1 334 261 3270

Birmingham, Alabama

The industrial powerhouse of the South and the foundation of opposition to integration in the mid-20th century, Birmingham also figured prominently in King’s life.

It was from Alabama’s largest city, after all, that he wrote his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in 1963, in which he passionately advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to cabinet ministers. white skeptics who questioned his tactics and perceived impatience with the pace of change.

You can see the actual door to his jail cell at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute as well as important documents and oral histories of the civil rights movement. It is open with limited hours and Covid-19 precautions in place. 520 16th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203; +1 205 328 9696

washington d.c.

It now seems inevitable that King’s march for justice has taken him beyond the Deep South to the nation’s capital. Here are some places you can visit:

— Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial: The first memorial to honor an African American on the National Mall, it opened to the public in 2011 and features a mighty 30-foot statue of King emerging from rocks. You can also read inspirational quotes made from sculptures on the site. The National Park Service says masks are necessary in crowded outdoor spaces. 1850 West Basin Drive SW, Washington, DC 20024 (nearest subway station is Smithsonian)

– The Lincoln Memorial: Fittingly, it was from the steps of this beloved memorial that King delivered his most famous speech – “I Have a Dream”. Sit on the steps, close your eyes and imagine the atmosphere there on August 28, 1963, as more than a quarter of a million people packed the National Mall to hear what has become one of the most most important in the history of the United States. 2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20037

— The National Museum of African American History and Culture: The museum made a great addition to the many fine institutions in the capital when it opened in 2016. The museum contains artifacts directly related to King as well as a insight into the contributions and tribulations of black people. Americans. 1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560; +1 844 750 3012

Boston, MA

While several Southern cities claim part of King’s legacy, it may surprise some people to learn that Boston, this New England stronghold, was also a key place to shape his life.

Before returning to the South, King attended Boston University in the early 1950s. Just as you can walk in the footsteps of undergraduate students at Morehouse in Atlanta, you can do the same for graduate student King has drunk. 771 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215; +1 617 353 3710

You might want to visit the grounds of the impressive Massachusetts State House, where King addressed a joint session of the legislature in April 1965. 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133

A 22-foot memorial called The Embrace is set to be unveiled in 2022 in Boston Common Park to commemorate MLK and Coretta Scott King. It is the city, after all, where they met and where they began their married life.

Bimini, Bahamas

Combine a beautiful island getaway with a bit of MLK history in Bimini, the most westerly outpost of the Bahamas and only 80 km from the Florida coast.

King used to come here to relax and write his speeches, including notes for his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech he gave in Oslo, Norway, in 1964.

CNN Travel’s Lilit Marcus reported in a 2018 article that “there are two busts of King on the island – one in front of the Straw Market in central Alice Town and one among the mangroves where King spent so much time. ‘peaceful afternoons’.

The Bahamas is open to US citizens. Click here for entry requirements.


The struggles for civil rights in the United States and the end of colonialism in Africa happened at the same time and, naturally, the movements joined.

In 1957, the Kings traveled to Ghana in West Africa to attend its independence ceremony from Britain, according to Stanford University’s King Encyclopedia. In the capital of Accra, he met, among others, the then vice-president, Richard Nixon.

His first trip abroad, Ghana had a profound effect on King. Upon his return to the United States, he said, “Ghana has something to tell us. It tells us first that the oppressor never voluntarily gives freedom to the oppressed. You have to work for it.

Prior to the pandemic, Ghana was emerging as a top tourist destination not only in West Africa but across the continent. It is open to US visitors. While many people come for the beaches, wildlife, and food, it is also home to important historical sites.

This includes Cape Coast Castle, which was a transatlantic slave trade hub. A visit there is a grim reminder of the centuries of oppression and its ramifications from MLK’s time until today. Victoria Road, Cape Coast, Ghana, +233 57 710 1707


Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance crusade to liberate India from British rule profoundly influenced King.

In February and March 1959, King embarked on a five-week tour of India to learn more about the movement that inspired him. In Delhi, he notably met Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He spoke with students from the University of New Delhi.

Eventually he went to Calcutta (now called Kolkata), the intellectual center of India. Martin Luther King Sarani, a street named after him in the heart of the city, is not far from the Victoria Memorial.

In Bombay (now called Mumbai), King visited Mani Bhavan, where Gandhi worked and lived for 17 years. Today it is a museum where you can see artifacts from Gandhi’s life. India has recently reopened to international tourists. 19, Laburnum Road, Gamdevi, Mumbai-400007, India; + 022 23805864

In line

If you just aren’t able to get to any of these places in person this year, trace King’s travels online at Stanford University’s sprawling King Institute. It’s a deep dive into his life, but easy to navigate.

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