by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media
Walking up the steps that lead to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home was surreal for a young man like myself. Over the years, I’ve heard and read about many stories pertaining to Dr. King’s legacy, courtesy of my parents, grandparents, mentors, educators and modern-day activists. King’s birth home, located at 501 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia, was built in 1895. It’s located about a block away from Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King, his father, grandfather, and younger brother pastored.
King’s grandparents, Reverend Adam Daniel (A.D.) Williams, who was pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and his wife, Jennie Williams, bought this lovely Atlanta home for $3,500 back in 1909. In 1926, after King’s father married Alberta Williams, the newly weds moved into the house, which is where King was born. King was born in this home on January 15, 1929, and he spent the first 12 years of his life here.
It was in this home that King witnessed his father’s bold acts against segregation. King was just a child when his father stood up to a traffic policeman who called him “boy.” King was with his father when he walked him out of a store after a shoe clerk told them that they would have to move to the back of the store if they wanted to be served.
The adolescent King was good friends with a white boy whose father owned a business near his birth home, but by the time the boys were six years old they had to attend separate schools, of course, due to the segregation laws, at that time. The friendship didn’t last much longer after that. The white boy’s father made it clear that he no longer wanted the boys to be friends.
I bring up that part of King’s childhood because despite experiencing racism very early on in his life, King’s later message of peace, equality and justice was ahead of its time.
When King spoke, when he marched, when he turned the other cheek, it was not just for black people. He wanted to see equality and justice for every single human being walking the earth at that time as well as those who would eventually be born into this world.
“It seemed as though I could hear the quiet assurance of an inner voice saying: ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you. Even till the end of the world.’” ~ MLK
What fascinates me about the quote you see above is that King listened and chose to act on what God was telling him at a time where simply speaking out about injustice in America as an African American could have meant the end to your life. King accepted the assignment anyway.
Do you understand the magnitude of that?
At a time of legalized racial segregation and discrimination in the U.S. and unwarranted violence (lynchings, shootings, beatings, bombings etc.) against blacks in America, King accepted the assignment of living a life centered on fighting for justice and equality for all people.
When I visited King’s birth home, I got chills immediately. I knew I was walking the same streets and sitting on the same steps as a leader who put his life second to the lives of others. I’ll forever be grateful to King for what he sacrificed. | KMN