Where to Take Kids to Learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King's life can be a shining example to everyone, but especially to children if we expose them to it. Luckily, that is easy to do in Georgia!
You can find Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all around you in Georgia. After all, this is the state where he was born. This is where he went to elementary and high school. This is where he received his first college degree. He spent most of his life living in Atlanta, and it is the also the city where he is buried.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is perhaps the most prominent person ever to call Georgia home. He spearheaded the civil rights movement, using his non-violent philosophy to pursue change in the South and throughout the U.S. He was jailed, beaten and, on April 4, 1968, murdered for leading this charge. His life can be a shining example to everyone, but especially to children, if we expose them to it. Luckily, that is easy to do in Georgia!
While Atlanta has many of the museums, monuments and historic sites dedicated to Dr. King, there are other places in Georgia where the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lives on, as well.
7 Places to Take Kids to Learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. in Georgia
King Center Visitor Center, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, Atlanta
The 35-acre Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, which opened in Atlanta in 1980, includes The King Center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birth Home. It was given the designation of a National Historical Park in 2018. It is the place to bring kids to learn about Dr. King.
The highlight of the King Center Visitor Center for kids is "Children of Courage," which includes hands-on, creative and informational exhibits kids will love. It tells the story about how children participated in the civil rights movement. It's a wonderful way to personalize history and bring it to the level of most children. Be sure to also spend time in the featured exhibit, "Courage to Lead," as well. It takes visitors on the paths of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, focusing on the intersection of those paths.
One of the best features about the King Center for parents of young children is that there is a well-maintained outdoor playground right outside! Restless children, or those who just need to get some energy out, will love the compact but delightful play area. Parents will appreciate the shaded park benches.
Families also will have fun shopping in the gift shop, walking through the "I Have a Dream" International World Peace Rose Garden and viewing the tributes to Gandhi and civil rights icons.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home, Atlanta
The Martin Luther King Jr. Birth Home is open to the public, as it is part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. However, there are limited free tours of the home. They can only be reserved in person at the King Center Visitor Center. Go first thing in the morning to try to get a tour for that day.
Kids will love looking at the "relics" of times past and probably won't even realize they are learning about this powerful pioneer. Seeing Dr. King as a boy can make him more real to children. He achieved much in his short 39 years of life, but he started as a child, just like yours!
Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta
The Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church is also included within the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park site. It is the place where Dr. King's father was a pastor, where Dr. King was baptized and was later co-pastor. It is also the place that hosted the funeral of Dr. King.
Within the last 30 years, work has been done on the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to restore what it would have looked like during Dr. King’s tenure, 1960-1968. Structural repairs were made, with careful preservation of key features like the original stained-glass windows.
Bring kids here to experience a rich example of the African American church, as well as to help them walk the same steps Dr. King walked. History comes alive in this building and can make even the most nonchalant young person look around in awe.
Morehouse College, Atlanta
Not only is Atlanta home to Dr. King’s childhood home, but it's also his college home. Martin Luther King was a Morehouse man. He entered the prestigious college for black men at the age of 15 in 1944, graduating in 1948. His legacy lives on in many ways throughout the institution.
Morehouse College is home to The King Collection, which includes about 10,000 items representing most of Martin Luther King’s work and personal life. The King Collection is not always on public view, but if you can get there when it is, you will be inspired and impressed.
If you are not able to view the King Collection at Morehouse College, you can still request a tour of the college campus. You will be able to walk the same steps Dr. King walked as a student. Save time to stop at the monuments to Dr. King and read portions of his speeches memorialized on campus. Be sure also to visit the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, the world’s most prominent religious memorial to Dr. King. Its grandeur reminds you of a different time.
Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta
There are many reasons to visit the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Besides being home to some dramatic, heart-wrenching and incredibly real exhibits on the civil rights era, it is also home to The Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection. This is a rotating collection featuring items from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection. This is where the public gets to see personal letters, family photos, hand-written papers and other items from Dr. King. These items are so personal, so real, that they can help children see Martin Luther King in a three-dimensional way. It helps them see him as a man who wears glasses, laughs with his wife, and reads books by ancient authors.
Martin Luther King Jr. Monument Park, Dublin
Not all of the places to take your kids to learn about Martin Luther King are in Atlanta. One is miles away in Dublin, Georgia, where a 15-year-old Martin Luther King gave his first public speech. He gave this speech at historic First African Baptist Church on April 17, 1944, as part of an oratorical competition. His speech, entitled "The Negro and the Constitution," shows that his desire to spark positive social change started very young.
To commemorate this historic speech, Dublin erected Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park to inspire today’s youth. If you are in southern Georgia, take some time to view the beautiful mural and monument that tells the story of the Dr. King’s first speech. The goal of the monument is to not only preserve history, but also to inspire people of all ages to think about how they can affect social change and build bridges between different communities. Want to get your kids even more involved? Have them enter the Oratorical Speech Contest: A Celebration of MLK. It continues to be held each year, sponsored by First African Baptist Church.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day Parade, multiple places
While most of the places to take kids to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. are concrete monuments to his life, there are also ways to experience his spirit. One of the best ways to learn about Dr. King is to see how people in Georgia are celebrating him on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. From Savannah to Dublin and from Hinesville to Elberton and Carrolton, there are plenty of places to attend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Observance Day parades.
These parades are a way for residents to remember the life and work of Dr. King, as well as to express their thanks and appreciation for all he gave to this country. Seeing people living Dr. King’s dream is a fantastic opportunity for kids (and adults) to learn about the importance of his legacy.
There are many places for you to take kids to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. in Georgia. After visiting these places, continue the education with books, movies and even watching Dr. King’s speeches on YouTube. Make learning about Dr. King something that happens in your home all year long.