• Monday, July 22, 2024
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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jnr

Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday in America held on the third Monday of January which was recently celebrated. KEMI AJUMOBI writes about this great man, sharing her experience on the tour to his home.

On January 15th, 1929, one of America’s most prominent civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. was born to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King in Atlanta, GA.
The heroic civil rights leader is celebrated for his role in combating discrimination in the South with civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance
In 1963, with the help of Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph, King led the massive March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and gave his famous “I Have a Dream” address. Over two hundred and fifty thousand people gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial to hear the now-iconic speech. He continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed just a year later, prohibiting racial discrimination in school and the work place and outlawing racial segregation in public. The same year, King became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 4, 1968 at the age of 39, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee while supporting the Memphis Sanitation Strike. His legacy is celebrated in America as a federal holiday on third Monday of January each year hence the need for the recent celebration of his birth.
While racial inequality was a key pillar, Dr. King’s legacy was also about peace and nonviolence on a larger scale and inequality in every aspect of our society.
A great man indeed, that was why I made sure I visited his home, 501 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312, United States while at Atlanta, in 2015.
I remember clearly how anxious I was to see where he lived. My first point of visit was the visitor’s centre, however before I got to the visitor’s centre, I passed by the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was baptized and both his father Martin Luther King, Sr., and he were pastors. I saw Dr. and Mrs. King’s Gravesite, which was quite emotional for me. I stood there for a few minutes and got lost in thought of how these two outstanding individuals lived their lives selflessly for the betterment of others. Not too far from their gravesite is ‘The Eternal Flame’, which symbolizes the continuing effort to realise Dr. King’s ideals for the “Beloved Community’ which requires lasting personal commitment that cannot weaken when faced with obstacles. I also saw the Freedom Hall, and Historic Fire Station.
While at the visitor’s centre, we were taken around and shown various items that explained happenings at MLK’s era. All of which are so many but one of the items I found fascinating were shoes worn by great black Americans who had passed on like President, The Memorial Foundation, Washington D.C,  Harry E. Johnson Sr., The Honourable Calvin Smyre, Georgia State Representative, Columbus Georgia, Civil Rights Attorney, Chicago Illinois, Thomas N. Todd to mention a few.
After the tour round the visitor’s centre, visiting the home where Dr. King was born and lived the first twelve years of his life was truly my highlight of my visit to the park.
I had gotten my ticket and waited for the next set which I belonged to. We were guided by a ranger, who took us to our first point of call, a building not too far from where MLK Jnr. was born, they shared with us the do’s and don’ts, one very painful one was that we were not allowed to take any pictures of the inner part of Martin’s home.
It will go down in history for me as one of the best 30minutes experience of my life. In 30 minutes, we learnt about the life of a young M. L. King. We entered the house which comprised of the first and second floor. We were shown the parlour, stairway, dining room, kitchen, study, guest bedroom, parent’s bedroom, boy’s bedroom (games the boys loved to play), the side porch and more…by the time we were done with the tour, we all felt inspired and enlightened. There was a sense of fulfilment knowing that we were in the house of the man who had a dream, whose dream became reality in his absence when Barrack Obama became the first black American President of The Unites States of America. Legacy worth celebrating indeed, what is your dream?