Growing up in the Greater Los Angeles Municipality, I know from “Sprawl”…and the resulting traffic. However, LA is contained by mountains and ocean, unlike Atlanta, which just keeps seeping out in every direction. Trying to accomplish our adventure goals in all parts of the “City” and its’ immediate suburbs meant hours of inching…along…in…traffic. We were also on a cleansing diet for a week and couldn’t even drink cocktails at the end of these long days on the road (see the blog, “Fried and Battered”, November 2012 to explain why the extreme diet was necessary). However, the sites we visited were just outstanding and we stayed here for a full week. The Arts and Music Scene is well funded here by Coca-Cola Chairman of the Board, Robert Woodruff of the eponymous Art Center Atlanta. But other adventures called to us as well: Silvercrest rail/bike trail conversion (goes West to the border with Alabama), 4 tango events with our new tango pals, and the outstanding exhibit, “Black Jaguar, Shamanistic Arts of the MesoAmericas” at Emory University’s Carlos Museum.
The CDC Musuem (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) promised to be filled with ghastly pictures of Ebola Virus and Guinea Worms (Yippee!!), but was really too geared for younger children to be very interesting to anyone who reads even a little science or is thrilled by really disgusting photos of the effects of tropical diseases.
An exhibit, a monument, an inspiration to what one person with resolve and great sacrifice can accomplish, is displayed at the Civil Rights Museum. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s efforts along with many regular citizens, far braver than most of us, ensured that, “Freedom and Justice for All”, meant something. We spent 6 hours there and were speechless most of the day with emotion. Martin Luther King, Jr. was raised in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, now owned by the National Park Service. His grandfather and his father were the preceding pastors here, as pictured below on the pulpit. We sat in the original pews listening to recordings of Dr. King’s sermons here, with Mahalia Jackson singing back-up hymns. So strong, so brave, and so loving.
We were struck by how young he was, age 26, when he led the Montgomery Bus Strike and led the Southern Baptist Leadership Conference. His intense study of Mahatma Ghandi and application of the principles of non-violence gave the protests national coverage as the world watched passive protesters including elders and children be set upon with attack dogs, clubs, tear gas, firehose spray, and horses…just for demanding that the U.S. Constitution, keep its’ promise to Black Americans. For this he and his family received up to 40 death threats a day and a bombing of their home, he was jailed 14 times, and he was criticized by other Southern Baptist pastors for creating unnecessary trouble and risk for the Black Community.
A turning point in public support was the coverage from Chicago, where Dr. King said he met greater animosity than any other city, including Black Sunday during the Selma/Montgomery march. Dr. King just used that abusive experience to call for the “March Against Fear”, and filled the Washington, D.C. Mall. He clearly presaged his death as he begged that the struggle continue, stating that he may not be around to see it to its end. Below is his wife and youngest child at his 1st memorial service.
His lasting message to us after a life of sacrifice for the principle of freedom…