Black History Month was created by Carter G. Woodson to highlight black achievements that are quite often forgotten. It started off as a birthday celebration for Fredrick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln for their efforts to enhance the lives of blacks in America. It was originally a week long celebration in February. In 1976, President Ford extended it to a month long observance.
Atlanta, the mecca of the south, is steeped in history and full of people past and present along with places to commemorate the celebration. Including the of home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Honorable Maynard Jackson, Congressman John Lewis, Hank Aaron and other notable and contributing men and women in history. It host of some of the most notable landmarks of the south and pillars in American history. See the list below for places to check out this month as well as all year long.
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
A museum unique as the people it highlights, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a must visit. The civil and human struggles in America come to life with a simulated “sit-in”, freedom rider bus, news broadcast from the days of the civil rights movement. An exhibit dedicated to global human rights and original documents of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is human civil history, it is interactive and engaging, one museum everyone should see. www.civilandhumanrights.org
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site
Visit historic MLK Jr. National Historic Site, it’s all things Dr. King. Stop in the visitors center to help guide you along to each stop.
King Center: Burial site for Dr. King and Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Across from their tombs is the Eternal Flame.
Freedom Hall: Is an exhibit to celebrate the efforts of those who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. It’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. in the summer.
Birth Home: Place where Dr. King was born in 1929. Tours are led by park rangers and open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free. However, tours are based on first come, first served basis.
Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church: Location where Dr. Martin Lither King, Jr. preached. See the same pulpit Dr. King spoke as Co-Pastor with his father. Have a seat and enjoy a recorded sermon. It’s free. Note: The new Ebenezer Baptist Church is directly across the street.
Fire Station No. 6: The station is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. when volunteers are available.
The home of former slave and prominent business owner Alonzo Herndon is a national historic site and open to the public. The home is tucked near the Atlanta University Center and the new Atlanta Falcons stadium. It’s a huge mansion, complimenting his success as an owner of barber shops and Atlanta Life Insurance Company. His story is compelling and extremely triumphant. You’ll leave in awe. Tours are hourly from 10:00 to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
Home of former author Joel Chandler Harris. He’s famous for his 19th century children’s stories. Including Uncle Remus, a fictional character that used to tell African-American folk tales to a little white boy. His comments include “I’m dating your mom,” “Your dad’s an idiot,” “The stories in the bible aren’t true,” “When civilization started, everyone used to be black.” Another character Brer Rabbit is just as popular. Visit the home were he wrote these stories. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. www.wrensnest.org
A museum designed to showcase the creative imagination of artist of African descent. Opened in 1988, located in the West End historic district of Atlanta and in close proximity to Wren’s Nest. Visit Wednesday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. www.hammondshouse.org
Historic Auburn Avenue District
East of downtown Atlanta, Auburn Avenue dubbed “Sweet Auburn Avenue” was once the wealthiest areas in the city for blacks. The area spans 19 acres and it stretched from the MLK National Historic Site to Peachtree Center Blvd.
African American Panoramic Experience Museum takes you from the diaspora, the struggles of equality and the more recent accomplishments of blacks in America. The museum sits in the heart of Auburn Ave and is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. www.apexmuseum.org
Sweet Auburn Curb Market, dubbed the “The Curb Market” is full of fresh produce and meats, small shops and eateries. www.thecurbmarket.com
Big Bethel AME Church, the oldest African-American congregation in Atlanta. A key force for social change in its hay day. Home of the first school for blacks in the city. And in 1881 it held classes for Morris Brown College, the only institution started by and for blacks before moving to its campus.
The road once included Atlanta Life Insurance Company, owned by former slave Alonzo Herndon. It was the second largest black company of it’s kind.
Atlanta Daily World, the first black publication of it’s kind in Atlanta. It sat doors down from the APEX Museum. In 2012, ADW joined the publisher Real Times Inc.
The Royal Peacock, a club that hosted local talent and the likes of The Four Tops, B.B. King, Gladys Knight and more.
During the month of February visiting a few of these locations will leave you well, patriotic because after all black history is American history. And the more you know the more you’ll understand and discover to appreciate. Enjoy the history lessons.