Friday, May 6, 2011

Atlanta, Jimmy Carter & Martin Luther King

Sun - April 24th & Sat- April 30th

This is the birthplace (1929) and childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr. It was built in 1895 and bought by his grandparents in 1909. It has 14 rooms and his family lived upstairs, while his grandparents lived downstairs. It is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Preservation District. Also included in the district is a row of company houses that were abandoned by white folks after the race riots of 1906 and the African Americans moved into them. There is also an old fire department building with an old fire engine. Black people were not allowed on the volunteer fire department until the 1960s.

The home is just a block away from the visitor center with displays about MLK, his wife Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks. In the plaza out front is this reflecting pool, fountains and Martin's and Coretta's graves. Nearby is an eternal flame.

Down the block is the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he and his father and grandfather all preached. His Mother and Grandmother directed the choir. His Mother was shot and killed by a crazy black woman while playing the organ six years after his death.

We thought it was interesting that the church had a neon sign out front. It is just for public viewing now. They have a huge, new church complex right across the street. We happened to be there on Easter Sunday and the ladies were all decked out in their new Easter outfits and hats.

They also have a very nice museum tracing his Civil Rights efforts. By the mid 60s he was traveling 325,000 miles and making 450 speeches per year. This is the two mule-team wagon used for the funeral procession in 1968 while a crowd of over 200,000 mourners followed along the 4.3 mile route from Ebenezer Church to Morehouse College.

There is a mile and a half walking path connecting the MLK Site to the Carter Presidential Center, Library and Museum. This is the entrance and behind us is the flag display with the U.S. flag in the center, surrounded by the 50 state flags.

There was originally a plantation here and battle fronts right in this area. It had been planned to put some interstate roads thru this area, but the plans changed and Carter was able to trade some land he owned for this central location about a mile or so from downtown Atlanta.

This is an overview with the entrance in the middle curved part and the museum in the left round building. The Carter Center offices and activities are in the buildings on the right.

This Caribou sculpture was given by an Alaskan preservation group to thank Carter for signing a bill that preserved millions of acres of wilderness area in their state. Presidents get thousands of gifts from countries, groups and individuals.

This carved ebony elephant was a gift to Amy Carter from the children of Sri Lanka in 1977. She also accepted a live Asian elephant named Shanti on behalf of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. who was still living in the zoo as of 2009.

This beaded belt with Indian motif and peanut in the center was made by a student at St. Michaels School in North Dakota.

This statue on the grounds shows a boy leading a blind man in honor of the work the Carter Center has done to prevent river blindness disease in Guatemala and many other diseases around the world like elephantiasis and malaria. A disease called guinea worm in African countries is caused by drinking water contaminated with the worm larvae. It grows to 3 feet long and emerges painfully through blisters in the skin. It is very dibilitating, so that people can't work and children can't go to school. In 1980 3.5 million suffered from this. As of 2008, due to education and medicines supported by the Carter Center, there were only 4,700 cases that were still being monitored.

In 1999 Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, by President Clinton. In 2002 Jimmy received this Nobel Peace Prize for... "his untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights and to promote economic and social development..." In his Nobel lecture he said, "God gives us capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes --- and we must."

In the 20s and 30s only the Carter family and one other in Archery, Georgia were white. 25 families were African American, and most of them were tenants on the Carter farm or others nearby. Jimmy's best friends were children of these families and he spent hours in their homes. "Except for my parents, the people who most deeply affected my early life were Bishop Johnson, Rachel Clark, Uncle Buddy, Julia Coleman (his taecher), and Willis Wright. Two of them were white. His Dad favored segregation, his mother did not. His home had neither electricity nor running water until his teenage years. He helped his father in the farm blacksmith shop and plowed fields behind a mule. Much as he loved the land and nature, he wanted a career in the navy like his Uncle Buddy. He became an officer on a nuclear submarine, but came home to take over the farm when his father died and got into politics because he wanted to change things.

This is a view of downtown Atlanta from the gardens behind the Carter Center.

Good Night Y'All,


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