MLK Childhood Home Reopens For Anniversary Of Death | WABE 90.1 FM

MLK Childhood Home Reopens For Anniversary Of Death

Apr 4, 2017

On Tuesday, hundreds of visitors took silent tours of the home where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is remembering the day King was assassinated 49 years ago in Memphis with silent tours of his childhood home. 

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"It’s going to be a silent open house, so they can reflect and pay homage to this great man," said Rebecca Karcher, the chief of interpretation, education and cultural resource management for the site.  

The house on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta has been closed for repairs since last August after a structural issue was found in the home's floor. On Tuesday visitors were allowed to tour only the first floor. 

"We're having an assessment of the second floor,” Karcher said. “There's work to be done on the second floor, and that will be happening shortly."

That work includes repairing the plaster and wallpaper on the ceilings and wall of the room where King was born and evaluating the condition of the floor.

Karcher said the goal is to finish the repair work by April 2018 in time for the 50th anniversary of King's death.

Theodore Davis visited Atlanta for the first time from Brooklyn, N.Y. He said he was in awe after visiting the home.

"People should know their history,” Davis said. “As in African-Americans, minorities – people should know what he stood for and what he fought for. We're losing history because a lot of people don't know about it. Of our culture, of our nationality."

Davis had a big smile on his face because he said he shares his birthday with the day King died. He said he had wanted to visit King's birthplace for as long as he can remember.

Elizabeth Jahns and her family were visiting from Ann Arbor, Mich.

“My daughter was really interested in Martin Luther King ever since the holiday and they learned about it in school,” Jahns said. “So she’s been talking about coming to visit his house for weeks now.  It just happened that we fell on today, which was a little bit by accident but was a nice, pleasant surprise.”

Visitors stop in front of Martin Luther King's home, which is now open to the public.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Fei Zou was visiting from Beijing, but grew up in the city of Wuhan, China.

"When I was young even in China, we read the text of 'I Have A Dream,' " Zou said. “I cannot memorize the words in English, but we have the translation in Chinese and that was inspiring.”

King's daughter, Rev. Bernice King, spoke at a ceremony held at Ebenezer Baptist Church and raised a wreath.

On April 9, the day he was buried in Atlanta in 1968, the wreath will be placed on the grave.