January 17 2011 by Bridget Daly
Today, our nation celebrates the birth of one of the most important figures in history - Martin Luther King, Jr. In school, we learn of the clergyman's help in the advancement of civil rights, we learn of his non-violent teachings, his March on Washington and the "I Have a Dream" speech. But unless you were one of the fortunate Americans to have seen Dr. King speak in person, or been a part of the movement that rocked the nation and expanded our American values towards a color blind society, then it's all just another lackluster history lesson. My dream is to one year celebrate this iconic hero's birthday in Atlanta, Georgia, the birthplace of the Reverend and the epicenter of the civil rights movement.
While Atlanta - known as the cultural capital of the Southeast - has many exciting travel destinations, the city's civil rights legacy is unlike any other destination in America. Today, you can find civil rights tours on every Atlanta tourism website including:
Here you'll find information on historic events, notable civil rights activists, attractions and historic sites and heritage tours.
In the early 1960s, activists found their spiritual center within the Sweet Auburn district - the heart of African-American commerce and culture in Atlanta and the birth home of MLK on Auburn Avenue. King's childhood house still stands as a landmark, where tours are available. A few blocks away is the Reverend's spiritual home, Ebenezer Baptist Church. Every Sunday, hundreds of visitors from around the world are welcomed to experience its history and inspiring message.
I can't imagine a more inspirational walking tour than The International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Established in 2004 - the Walk of Fame gives recognition to those courageous leaders who sacrificed more than most of us could imagine to help make equality a reality for us all. Leading up to the National Park Service's Visitor Center is a parade of embedded granite markers featuring the actual footstep impressions of civil and human rights icons, such as Rosa Parks, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and many others.
The city of Atlanta has defined a legacy. Its breathtaking past is inspiring to the world and continues to impress visitors. I encourage everyone to explore the city and get a more in-depth look at how America came to understand that the content of one's character is more important than the color of their skin.