Here's a little trivial tidbit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr. and his father's original names were Michael Luther King, Sr. and Jr.? After Junior was born in 1929, he and his father were baptised at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and their names were changed from Michael Sr. and Jr. to Martin.
Mom and my final stop on the tour of Martin Luther King, Jr's life in Atlanta ended at his birthplace 501 Auburn Avenue. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in this 1895 Victorian home on January 15, 1929 and was baptised a block away at the old Ebenezer Baptist Church in February 1929. Before Martin's birth, the house belonged to his maternal grandparents, Reverend A.D. Williams and Jennie Williams, and Martin, Jr's parents moved into the house after their marriage in 1926. After Martin's grandmother died in 1941, the family moved to a house on Boulevard, but the house remained in the family name and was converted into a duplex that Dr. King, Jr's brother lived in for a time during the 1950's and 1960's.
The block on Auburn Avenue where Martin Luther King, lived for his first 12 years has been going under an extensive restoration of its houses since the early 1990's, and it is still going on today. Mom and I walked past a multi-family home at the beginning of King's block and it was in pretty rough shape with broken windows and sagging porches, but I am sure that it will be restored to its former glory in the future. Several other homes in the neighborhood have been restored and are home to low-income families and other Atlanta residents. I was so impressed with this restoration project and the beautiful architecture that I originally skipped Martin Luther King's birthplace and had to turn around to find it. In fact, I thought his house was a different color and took pictures of it without looking at the plaque at the steps leading to the house. DUH!
Across the street from MLK's birthplace are a row of shotgun houses that were built at the end of the 19th century and were home to African-American laborers. It was also a place of activism and violence and several times, the police were called to these shotgun houses to break up union meetings and strikes for better wages and treatment of African-American workers who lived in the area. Today, they are home to low-income and other residents of Atlanta. It's well worth a few minutes to check these houses out and read the plaques in front of them.
Mom and I arrived too late for a guided tour (the only way you can see the inside of Martin Luther King's Birthplace) of the interior of the home, but we learned a lot from walking around the neighborhood and outside the home and walked the same sidewalks that Martin Luther King, Jr. used to walk as a child.
If you are interested in touring the exterior of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthhome, you can make reservations by telephone or on the Internet. The tours start from the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center further up the road on Auburn and are free of charge. There are signs along Auburn Avenue pointing out important aspects of African-American life and King's life along the way and remember that this is still an active neighborhood and to respect their ways and properties. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home is highly recommended to visit during your time in Atlanta.