We entered Atlanta and the first thing that popped into my mind was T.I.’s “Bring Em Out”. Our first stop was the King’s Visitor Center and the surrounding memorials and exhibits. This included King’s childhood home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the reflection pool which is the grave site of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.
As a group, we had the freedom to travel to any place and my first stop was Dr. King’s childhood home. Unfortunately, the tours began that afternoon; therefore, I opted for a virtual tour later that morning. I continued to walk down the street to the reflection pool. Four little Black boys sat on the small ledge for their father to take a picture. One little boy exclaimed, “There’s Dr. King!” And they sat and listened as their mother taught them their history. Proud Black moment.
Following this visit, I continued to Ebenezer Baptist Church where King Jr. preached under his father, Daddy King. This is the site of a visionary, a dreamer, but also the site of pain and death. In 1974, King’s mother was murdered in the church as well as a deacon. Three other members were wounded. On the fourth pew from the back on the left side of the church, you can still see where the bullet went through the pew.
Although another one of King’s sermons played in the background, I took a seat in the back row to reflect on King’s last speech in Memphis, TN, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”. I always find myself getting emotional while listening this powerful speech. King concluded:
Well, I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. (Amen) But it really doesn’t matter to with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. (Yeah) [Applause] And I don’t mind. [Applause continues] Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. (Yeah) And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. (Go ahead) And I’ve looked over (Yes sir), and I’ve seen the Promised Land. (Go ahead) I may not get there with you. (Go ahead) But I want you to know tonight (Yes), that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. [Applause] (Go ahead, Go ahead) And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. [Applause]
King was assassinated the very next day.
After lunch we traveled to Georgia State University to hear a presentation by historian Glenn T. Eskew. He authored But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movement for Civil Rights Struggle. Birmingham was the birthplace of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Eskew provided an overview of the movement in the city. As he concluded his presentation, an older Black woman made her way down the front row. To be honest, I was unsure of who this person was; however, I soon learned that she was Mrs. Juanita Abernathy, wife of Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and civil rights activist. She survived terror like no other. The Klan bombed her home in 1957 because of her involvement in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Abernathy worked endlessly alongside her husband and Dr. King with the Montgomery Improvement Association. She challenged the city’s school segregation by enrolling her children into white schools and traveled to Chicago with the King family to protest against housing discrimination. The remainder of the post will feature a few quotes from Mrs. Williams. I also purchased her husband’s autobiography which I am excited to read.
“Rosa Parks was not chosen; she simply refused.”
“I learned from non-violence during Sunday School…not from Mahatma Ghandi.”
When talking about the North, “We were down South and they were Up South.”
“Black Live Matter is simply stating that we matter…Young people will burn down America before they go back.”
“No one is teaching young people non-violence.”