Hotspot Atlanta

January 18, 2009|By Michelle Deal-Zimmerman

Tomorrow is the national holiday celebrating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. Atlanta, the birthplace and resting place of King, is a great destination for exploring the rich cultural heritage of African-Americans. The Sweet Auburn Historic District, along Auburn Avenue, features several preserved sites reflecting the civil rights movement and King's legacy.

1

Honor history : The Martin Luther King National Historic Site is one of the most-visited attractions in Atlanta. Here you can take a guided tour of the two-story house where King was born and see the tomb where he was laid to rest. The gravesite of his wife, Coretta Scott King, is also nearby. Within the site is the Ebenezer Baptist Church, a national historic landmark. The church, where King was baptized at the age of 5 and where he delivered his first sermon at 17, is closed for a $4 million renovation but will reopen this year.

2

Be presidential : When he ran for governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter was one of the first state politicians to campaign for votes in black churches. He was elected president in 1976. The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in downtown Atlanta offers a glimpse of his presidency.

3

Focus on fine arts : The Hammonds House Museum highlights the works of artists of African descent. The museum is located in a Victorian-era house, formerly the home of a prominent black physician, in Atlanta's historic West End. Exhibits include paintings, sculptures and masks.

4

Tour a historically black college : Atlanta has one of the highest concentrations of African-American educational institutions, including Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark-Atlanta University.

5

Go to the mountaintop : Stone Mountain Park, about 20 minutes outside the city, was once the meeting place for the Ku Klux Klan and features carvings of Confederate leaders in the granite rock. Nonetheless, the park today is a more welcoming place suitable for families of all colors. Visitors can take a Sky Ride to the top of the mountain, ride a scenic railroad at its base or enjoy a paddlewheel riverboat cruise on Stone Mountain Lake.

More information: atlanta.net, atlanta

heritage.com

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