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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

The Provenance of an American Civil Rights Leader

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Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home (2020) by CyArkCyArk

Introducing Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) remains one of the most prominent civil rights leaders of the 20th century. From December 5, 1955 to April 4, 1968, his life works were instrumental in advancing civil rights for African Americans and other oppressed people in the United States, and around the world. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929, King grew up in the Sweet Auburn Community, a neighborhood of wealthy, middle-class, and low-income African Americans, where many of the residents were business owners. This neighborhood and the community’s leadership modeled by King’s maternal grandfather and father, greatly shaped his passionate activism in social change.

One block from his birth home, King attended Ebenezer Baptist Church where his maternal grandfather(1894 -1931) and father (1931 -1975) served as senior pastors. Dr. King became the first co-pastor in 1960, while serving as founding president of Southern Christian Leadership Conference, until his tragic death on April 4, 1968. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s. funeral was held at Ebenezer on April 9th, where thousands of mourners gathered in the streets of Sweet Auburn, the community that had shaped his character and courageous leadership.

Through the persistent fortitude and vison of Mrs. Coretta Scott King, her husband’s life and legacy have been memorialized and preserved through significant places on Auburn Avenue. where Dr. King was born, lived, worked, worshiped, and is buried. On October 10, 1980 this area was established as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. In January of 2018, the National Historic Site was re-designated as Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park (2020) by CyArkCyArk

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Today

Today, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park is a 38.4-acre park consisting of a Visitor Center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Heritage Sanctuary), The King Center, Historic Fires Station No. 6, King Birth Home, Historic Residential Area, Prince Hall Masonic Building, where the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) relocated their headquarters in 1963 and the Family Home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mrs. Coretta Scott King.

On-going restoration and renovation efforts are performed on these historic resources by the National Park Service. And through these preservation activities, park visitors are offered a rare opportunity to walk in the exact footsteps of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to connect with his Sweet Auburn Community in Atlanta, Georgia, that remains central and relevant to the advancement of civil rights and human rights today. Annual events in the Park are Dr. King's Birthday Celebration, King Week, National King Holiday, and Commemorating Dr. King's Assassination.

Podium and Microphone inside Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (2020) by CyArkCyArk

The Williams-King Pastoral Leadership of Ebenezer Baptist Church

Since the founding of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1886, a total of five pastors have served the congregation, and two of these pastors related to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were Reverend Adam Daniel (A.D.) Williams and Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. The dedication and longevity of the Williams-King pastorship is memorialized within the Heritage Sanctuary. For example, one of the stained-glass windows in the front of the Sanctuary features an image of Dr. King's maternal grandfather, Reverend Adam Daniel (A.D). Williams, who was the Church’s second pastor from 1894-1931. On the opposite side of the Sanctuary is another stained-glass medallion with the image of Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., (Daddy King), who became pastor, after the death of his father-in-law, Rev. Williams, in 1931.

 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the first co-pastor of Ebenezer, serving with his father from 1960 to April 4, 1968. His brother, Rev. Alfred Daniel Williams King served as co-pastor, until his tragic death on July 21, 1969. Their father, Daddy King, retired from active ministry in 1975, nearly a year after his wife, Mrs. Alberta Christine Williams King (Mama King) was assassinated in Ebenezer on June 30, 1974.

CyArk Documentation of Martin Luther King, Jr's Birth Home (2020) by CyArkCyArk

Expedition Overview

CyArk documented portions of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park for the creation of an interactive 3D guided tour. CyArk extensively captured the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church utilizing LiDAR and photogrammetry which served as the foundation for the interactive tour. CyArk additionally captured the surrounding neighborhood with panoramic photography to further provide context for the "Sweet Auburn" community that greatly shaped the work and personhood of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In collaboration with the National Park Service, CyArk recorded Park Ranger Marty Smith giving a tour throughout the National Historical Park. Through combining the tour and collected 3D data, virtual visitors now have access to interactively engage with the stories of the historic civil rights work that grew out of this neighborhood.

Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church Heritage Sanctuary (2020) by CyArkCyArk

Additional Resources

For more information on this National Historical Park, its history and additional resources relating to CyArk’s work please visit CyArk Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park - Resources.

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This project was made possible through the generous support of Iron Mountain and the following partners:

National Park Service

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