Jan 14, 2022 - Things to Do

Tour Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Atlanta

Martin Luther King Jr. adjusts his son's tie during a family portrait in their Atlanta home
Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, sit with three of their four children — Martin Luther King III, 5, Dexter Scott, 2, and Yolanda Denise, 7 — in their Atlanta home. Photo: AP

Some of the important places in Martin Luther King Jr.'s life are closed due to Covid, but that doesn't mean you can't learn about the special places that played a role in the civil rights leader's life.

We asked Tom Houck, King’s former driver who now leads Civil Rights Tours Atlanta, about some of the other important King-related spots in Atlanta.

Auburn Avenue: Perhaps the single most important street in the story of King's life, Houck tells Axios. He grew up there, went to elementary school nearby at David T. Howard, preached at Ebenezer Baptist and planned marches at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference headquarters.

  • Lesser-known spots, Houck says, include the long-gone restaurants Henry’s and BB Beamon's, where King would often eat, and the shuttered Butler Street YMCA, where he often took his children swimming.

South-View Cemetery: Before being interred at the King Center, King was first buried at this historic cemetery in southeast Atlanta. It's the final resting place of his parents, John Lewis, Julian Bond, Hank Aaron, John Wesley Dobbs and many other notable figures.

Vine City: Though his childhood home on Auburn Avenue is most famous, King and his wife, Coretta, raised their family in a modest house at 234 Sunset Ave. Purchased in 2019 by the National Park Foundation, the home is one of the most popular spots on Houck's civil rights tour.

  • Worthy of your time: The newly opened Rodney Cook Sr. Park aims to reduce flooding in the neighborhood and includes a monument to John Lewis.

Atlanta University Center: Before becoming a Morehouse Man, King went to Washington High School down the street. He and other civil rights leaders ate at Busy Bee Cafe, Aleck's Barbecue Heaven, and the original Paschal’s location. The former remains a popular spot for soul food; Aleck's and the Paschal's location near the AUC closed long ago.

Houck’s tour company has canceled most January events because of the omicron variant but is currently accepting reservations for February trips.

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