Many historical points of interest to a black history educational tour are within the Atlanta, GA area. Museums and historical sites abound in the Atlanta area and can complement a student travel tour with a curriculum based on the Civil Rights movement. Being in actual buildings once occupied by great civil rights leaders give students a greater understanding of the subject. Since Atlanta was the birthplace and the city where Martin Luther King, Jr. launched his career as a pastor and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, it is the best place to gain a better understanding of black history in the U.S.
Following are my recommendations of Black Heritage sites in the greater Atlanta metro area that are a necessary component of a comprehensive student tour.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site:
Student Travel Tours Learn About the Civil Rights Movement
This site includes a number of facilities that operate in partnership with the National Park Service, Ebenezer Church and the King Center. Among the points of interest are the Visitors Center with a museum, interactive exhibits and films about Dr King and the Civil Rights movement.
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church is immediately adjacent to the Visitors Center. It is here, in the church’s meeting space, that Dr King planned civil rights strategies of non-violence. Dr King was ordained here and became co-pastor from 1960 until his assassination in 1968. Students visiting this place of worship can walk in the footsteps of America’s most prominent civil rights leader. Student travel groups always feel inspired by being in the space where Dr King spoke so eloquently about social change through non-violence. It is here that Dr King wrote many of his famous speeches while he was the main force behind the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The King Center
Directly across Auburn Avenue is the King Center and Dr King’s tomb. At the grave, Coretta Scott King established a living memorial dedicated to her late husband’s non- violent movement for justice, equality and peace. The center utilizes books, audio and video cassettes, film, television, CDs and web pages, to educate students about Dr. King’s life, work and his philosophy of nonviolent conflict-reconciliation and social change. Students will find this site to contain some of the most detailed writings and artifacts of MLK’s career as a minister and civil rights leader.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthplace & Home
The King birth home is a short walk down Auburn Avenue from the King Center. It was built in 1895 and Martin Luther King, Jr. was born here on January 15, 1929 and lived here for 12 years. The home is restored to reflect the period of 1930s and 40s when Dr King lived here as a child.
A comprehensive Black Heritage Tour should include the preservation district of Auburn Avenue, immediately adjacent to the National Park complex. This area includes many points of interest on a Black History tour of Atlanta such as Historic Fire Station # 6 which is currently maintained as a museum, bookstore and gift shop.
Atlanta History Center: the Black Phoenix tour illustrates the Black Heritage of Atlanta
Student tours that visit the Atlanta History center will find this museum interesting. The Black Phoenix tour follows the journey of the African American experience in Atlanta from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement. The tour continues inside the museum with a visit to the Shaping Traditions exhibition to learn how customs were brought from Africa and passed down for generations. Next students visit the Turning Point exhibition to learn about the impact of the Civil War. Finally, student travel groups may tour the Metropolitan Frontiers exhibition for a stroll down Auburn Avenue. Here students learn about the pioneers of black business in Atlanta and the civil rights leaders who helped make Atlanta the city that it is today.
Tullie Smith Farm: Student Tour Groups Learn About Life as an African Slave
A student tour is greatly enhanced with a trip to the Tullie Smith Farm to see a settler’s cabin and learn about slave life. A Black History Civil War Performance shows living history interpreters portray African Americans during the Civil War in Georgia.
Jimmy Carter Presidential Center and Museum: Students learn about the President’s early work for the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia politics
The Museum of the Jimmy Carter Library includes photographs and historical memorabilia from the Carter presidency (1976 – 1981). An exact replica of the Oval Office and gifts received by the Carters are also featured. A permanent exhibit of significant events occurring during Jimmy Carter’s life and political career includes photographs with interpretative text. Students will learn about Jimmy Carter’s childhood and race for President, and study some of the issues that American Presidents have confronted.
Wrens Nest: African American History Atlanta Tour site
By preserving the legacy of Joel Chandler Harris and the heritage of African American folklore through storytelling, tours and special events, the Wren’s Nest serves as an educational resource and entertainment venue for the community, and student travel groups to the greater Atlanta area. The Wren’s Nest was the home of Joel Chandler Harris from 1881 until 1908 and was named for the wrens that made a nest in the mailbox. Today the home features most of the Harris family’s original furniture and belongings, and is Atlanta’s oldest house museum.
It is in Atlanta that I have found the most intriguing sites to inspire and educate student travel groups about the African American experience and the civil rights movement of the 20th century within the U.S. This complete tour will have a lasting effect on all that experience it.
For more information on creating a Black Heritage tour for students visiting the Atlanta Georgia area, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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