On a day when we looked at a lot of stuff, but didn’t do to much, we had one definite thing on the agenda. Atlanta was the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. and the place that he lived most of his adult life. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter named the Ebinezer Baptist Church where he preached, a National Historic Site. Ebinezer Baptist Church is also the church where his father and grandfather preached before him.
When we arrived in the area, I was concerned that something was wrong. All of the streets surrounding the church were blocked off by the police. Finally, after we circled the area three times looking for a way in, I asked a police officer what was going on. He informed me that the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King’s oldest daughter was today at the church. We were told to find parking somewhere outside of the barricades and that we could walk into the area housing the National Historic Site’s Visitor’s Center and the church.
As we approached the area I couldn’t help but notice a long line of people waiting to go inside the church for the service. On one side of the road sits the original church, while across the street is the new Ebinezer which is much larger. The older church building is open for daily tours, but they no longer hold services in it.
After taking the time to watch the line of people and contemplate the historical significance of this place, we proceeded to the visitor’s center. The visitor’s center had a vast array of information about not only Dr. King, but segregation and civil rights issues. We patiently went through all six of the stations that each focused on a different topic. The topics ranged from slavery to Dr. King’s assassination in 1968. I thought that it was very important for Shawn Reece to understand not only who Dr. King was, but the hatred and discrimination that existed in America as recently as 40 years ago. He doesn’t really wrap his mind around it yet, but when he revisits this topic at an older age, I feel that he will remember this experience. While we still have a long way to go as a society, it is evident that Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world tremendously.
After the walk through tour, it was time to see a 30 minute video about Dr. King’s life. It started with the bus boycott in 1955 featuring Rosa Parks and went all the way through to his death. This subject brings such great sadness to me, since in the world I was raised in, we weren’t taught to hate. I can’t fathom how anyone could have so much hate in their heart. The harshness of it all overwhelms me.
Looking back at what went on during those sad times, I have so much respect for every person that marched non violently for their god given rights. They put up with so much and continued to endure horrible, violent treatment. To remain non violent during these times must have been the ultimate test of their wills. Walking out of that building, I felt Dr. King’s presence everywhere around me. It made me take a look at myself and recommit to being a better person in everything that I do. It certainly reminded me how grateful I am for all of the blessings in my life today.
When we left the visitor’s center, we headed over to the old church building for a tour. To be in the actual building where Martin Luther King Jr.preached every Sunday humbled me. We sat on the old wooden benches and all I could do was imagine what it would have been like to watch him up in the front giving a sermon. His words were so inspiring to so many people. When I heard his “I Have A Dream” speech replayed in the 30 minute video, I wanted to stand up right there and march. Few people I have heard in my life can evoke such a response with their words.
After leaving the old church building there was only one thing left to do in the area before leaving. We walked over to Dr. King’s burial sight and prayed. All three of us took a moment of silence where we each said a prayer for more peace in the world. I also prayed that I might be able to do good for more people in my life and that I may be on a path towards being the best person that I can be. I believe that Martin Luther King Jr’s spirit was all over that block. I saw and felt it everywhere. When we left the area I was truly inspired.
After viewing the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Monument we decided to go visit downtown Atlanta. Specifically we wanted to see the CNN Center and Centennial Olympic Park. Centennial Olympic Park was built in 1996 for the Olympic Games which were held in Atlanta. The park is called Centennial Olympic Park to commemorate the fact that the 1996 games marked the 100 year anniversary of the modern Olympics. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece in 1896.
Centennial Olympic Park is a very special place. The reason it is special is because it takes up 21 acres and sits among the high rises of downtown Atlanta. Not many cities can boast that they have a beautiful park in the middle of their downtown district. This park also has a little of something for everyone. It features beautiful fountains, an ampitheater, a children’s playground and plenty of wide open green space. I was definitely impressed.
On the far side of the park is the Atlanta Aquarium and the brand new World of Coca Cola Museum. The new World Of Coca Cola Museum (the old one was a few blocks away) just opened today and was having it’s grand opening. I think they hired Cirque Du Soleil for entertainment as wierd things were going on all around. As I said before, we looked at quite a lot, but decided not to do too much today. Most of it simply didn’t fit into the budget and we weren’t very interested either. We did however want to the CNN Center Tour. CNN has a 50 minute behind the scenes tour of their facility. It would have been interesting, but we didn’t know that you need advanced reservations. Oh Well.
With some extra time to kill we headed over to the library so Shawn Reece could do a little reading. This also gave me some time to get on the internet to book our hotel in Nashville. While online I discovered that the Atlanta Braves were in town playing the New York Mets. I asked Jasmine if she wanted to go and she said yes. After spending over an hour in the library we headed back to Centennial Olympic Park where we passed another hour by simply lying on the grass.
Turner Field is the home of the Atlanta Braves. It opened in 1997 for baseball, but was built in 1996 for the Olympic Games. After the Olympics, Ted Turner had it renovated for baseball and the Braves moved in. Turner Field is definitely an upgrade from Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. Out of a capacity of 50,000 the attendance was around 40,000 people. In addition to a wonderful ball game we were treated to seeing two future hall of fame pitchers square off. Tom Glavine started for the New York Mets and John Smoltz started for the Atlanta Braves. Not enough goodness for you? Well, John Smoltz was also going for his 200th career victory. He got it and the Braves won 2-1! By the time we got back to the hotel from the game it was 11:30pm. As my head hit the pillow, all I could say was “What a long glorious day!”
Today was our 2nd straight 14 hour day so we need to take it a little easier the next couple of days. Originally we were going to go to Six Flags Over Georgia (more roller coasters) tomorrow during the day and then directly to Nashville in the evening. Instead of heading to Nashville tomorrow night after a long day of riding roller coasters, we extended our hotel for one more night here in Atlanta. This way we don’t have to drive all night and arrive in the dark.
I plan to get the website up to date as soon as possible. It has proved more difficult as I don’t have regular internet access anymore. I am doing the best that I can and that is all I can do!!! After a little bit of thought on the subject, I have decided to start to add the date to the posts so you have an idea of where we are chronologically. I hope this helps. We truly love all of you. More updates soon……
We want to thank everyone for the comments and emails. Your support is truly appreciated and keeps us going.
The Coomer Family