The city of Atlanta has played an important role throughout American history, but one contribution is perhaps more significant than all the rest: Atlanta is the birthplace and childhood home of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Student trips to Atlanta with EF Explore America include a visit to the house King grew up in—a two-story Victorian at 501 Auburn Avenue—giving you a chance to glimpse the formative years of one of our country’s greatest heroes.
Young Martin Luther lived in the house for the first 12 years of his life (in fact, he was born in his parents’ bedroom on the second floor). He lived there with his parents, grandparents, siblings and several boarders. His mother was an elementary school music teacher, and his father and grandfather were preachers at the Ebenezer Baptist Church right up the street.
Today the house is part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, and it’s fully restored to look much like it did when Martin Luther was growing up there. A lot of the original furniture is in place, and visitors can see many of the family’s personal items. As you move through the house from room to room, it’s easy to imagine the daily life of young Martin Luther and his family.
In the downstairs parlor the church choir practiced, Martin Luther took piano lessons (which he dreaded), and the King family gathered and listened to radio shows like The Shadow. In the dining room the family would eat meals together and discuss world events, and on Sundays before dinner each child would recite a Bible verse they’d just learned. Down in the coal cellar, young Martin Luther would stoke coal as part of his household chores. The house also included a children’s play area, the parents’ bedroom (where Martin Luther was born), and the bedroom he shared with his brother.
Touring Martin Luther King, Jr.’s childhood home is one of those moments where you can really feel a deep connection to history. It’s a special thing to walk through the actual halls and rooms where that young boy experienced the world, learned about life, and lived the events that shaped him on his way to becoming one of the most influential figures in American history.