27 February 2009

Visited the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site

I was pretty proud of myself yesterday for getting myself to downtown Atlanta (I got offered the opportunity to buy pot twice) and got to the Sweet Auburn district to visit the MLK National Historic Site. I took a little longer to get down there than I thought, so I only had a little time. I did get to visit the birthplace and childhood home of MLK.

One thing that the tour guide pointed out that was fascinating to me was the composition of the block. He mentioned that one of the block was filled with families from lower income and the other end of the block was occupied by higher income families. The tour guide mentioned how much we are shaped by our by our childhood experiences, and his theory that the economic diversity that MLK encountered during that time was important to his later emphasis on poverty and breaking down prejudices.

The other experience that was formative for little "M.L." happened when he was six years old and the white son of the family who owned a local shop, three year friend of ML, told him that they could no longer be friends. His father had told him that they could not be friends because of ML's skin color. ML ran home to his parents and grandparents, who explained the implications of race, the Jim Crow laws, and racism. Apparently ML wrote in his autobiography that that night he determined to hate white people and never have another white friend again. Just speaking personally, I'm really glad for the power of redemption and forgiveness in his life. Our world would not be the place it is today without him.
On my way back to the metro rail station I was joined by a homeless man named Kenny. He walked along with me and told me about the neighborhood. I thoroughly enjoyed my tour through an extremely important neighborhood in black American history. If you can find a knowledgeable homeless friend to give you a tour when you're traveling, I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

The Word Chef said...

Oooh! I've been there! I took a tour in college called "Prejudice Across America" so of course we stopped at every possible MLK place... including Memphis. How can you NOT become his biggest fan the more you learn about him?!