Ebenezer Baptist Church
Also part of the National Historic Site, this Gothic-Revival style building became known as the spiritual base of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Along with his father, who preached here for four decades, Martin Luther King, Jr. served as co-pastor until his death in 1968, working for voting and other rights and providing spiritual guidance to the African American congregation. For its role as an activist hub and as the site of King’s baptism and funeral, it’s an exceptionally meaningful symbol of civil rights in Atlanta.
In 2001 the church was significantly restored, including the preservation of stained glass windows, furniture, the balcony and a pipe organ. Today, the congregation has moved into a building across the street but members conduct tours of Ebenezer daily (9am-4pm Mon to Fri, 9am-2pm Sat, 2-4pm Sun).
The King Center
The building at the core of the National Historic Site is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, established in 1968 by his wife Coretta Scott King and otherwise known as The King Center. As the official memorial dedicated to the advancement of his legacy and ideas, it is also home to the tomb where he and his wife are buried, surrounded by a reflecting pool. The center also contains several of King’s personal items, like his bible, clerical robe and the key to his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis where he was assassinated. But most of all it is a global resource centre for the Civil Rights Movement, and a destination for people to pay their respects.
The Center is located at 449 Auburn Avenue and is open 9am-5pm daily (6pm in summer). Admission and parking are free.
Sweet Auburn Curb Market
Located right in the heart of the Sweet Auburn neighbourhood, Sweet Auburn Curb Market was opened in 1924 in the aftermath of the Great Atlanta Fire. The name reflects the era when Atlanta was still living under racial segregation, at which point white customers could browse the entirety of the market but black patrons could only shop at curbside stalls, giving it the moniker ‘Curb Market’. King’s boyhood neighbourhood was the epicentre of African American life during the 1940s and 50s, and played such an influential role in the Civil Rights Movement that it was named a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
Today the market is a buzzy hotspot renowned for speciality Southern fare, ranked 16th best food market in the world by USA Today. Frequented by tourists, foodies, students, local business folk and the greater Atlanta community, it is open Monday to Saturday, 8am-6pm and houses 24 individual vendors, a bakery, bookstore and eleven popular places to eat.
Center for Civil and Human Rights
Opened in June 2014, the Center for Civil and Human Rights is Atlanta’s newest attraction. This inspiring facility connects the American Civil Rights Movement to present-day global human rights issues, and confronts the past, present and future of both via exhibits that bring visitors right into the subject matter.
Visit the Freedom Riders wall to pay homage to activists arrested during the movement; learn about global dictators while standing next to their (surprisingly short) life-size images; read the original writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the “Voices of the Voiceless” exhibit, or experience what it was like to be the target of unprovoked abuse at the replica lunch counter. Other parts of the center include an oral history booth where visitors can tell their own civil rights story, and an extraordinary water sculpture at the side of the building featuring two 30 foot glass panels.
The Center is located in downtown Atlanta between the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am-5pm, Sundays 12pm-5pm. Entrance is US$18.25 for adults, US$14.25 for children.