Visiting Atlanta During Black History Month
The civil rights movement found a home in Atlanta in the early 1960s. As the hometown of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his following, the city saw many changes evolve over the years of activism. While locations are open throughout the year, there are some special events planned for Black History Month.
3 Atlanta Black History Month Events & Sites
1. Oakland Cemetery
Beginning on MLK Day and continuing throughout February, the Historic Oakland Foundation hosts guided walking tours through Oakland Cemetery. Vivid storytelling weaves a tapestry of the lives that worked to change their community, their region, and the country. Tours are free, but reservations are required. February’s African American Grounds Tours are currently sold out, but this tour is available to private tour groups year-round. Visit the events page for more information.
2. Celebrating Family and Faith at the MLK, Jr. Historical Site
The home on Auburn Avenue where Martin Luther King, Jr. lived from birth through age 12 is on the National Register of Historic Places. Tours are available, but they can be difficult to obtain. No advance registrations or reservations are accepted. To sign up for a tour, arrive very early in the day. Tours are available every day except New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas from 10 am until 4 pm.
We were not able to get a tour during our short stay in Atlanta, but I have received tips from those who have been lucky. They suggest that Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays are the easiest days to get a tour. They also suggest arriving early to get on the waiting list and expect to go on the tour several hours later. While this lag time is significant, it allows you to relax and complete any of the self-guided tours while you wait.
One of those tours you may choose to complete while you wait is a self-guided tour at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Young Martin Luther King grew up in the church, being baptized there as a boy. He was ordained as a minister in that church and served as co-pastor of the congregation with his father from 1960 to the time of his death.
3. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum located in downtown Atlanta, next to the World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium and a short walk from Hilton Atlanta. The museum takes you through the history of the American Civil Rights movement, beginning in the mid-1950s.
Many of the exhibits are designed to provide hands-on experiences. For example, the lunch counter simulator gives visitors a very real sense of what the black students endured during the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960s. The exhibit challenges visitors: “How long can you last?” Its effect was surprisingly impactful; although the duration was less than two minutes, my daughters could not complete it. Even as an adult, I left this museum with a heightened sense of the societal struggles those from my parents’ and grandparents’ generations experienced.
General admission is $18.25, but discounts are offered to seniors and students and children under age 6 are free. Tickets can be purchased online in advance. Parking is available at the Georgia Aquarium/World of Coke garage. There are also hourly parking lots east of the museum within easy walking distance. This museum is also included in the Atlanta CityPass.
You may also enjoy:
- 4 Best Things to do in Downtown Atlanta with Kids
- Visit 2 Important Civil Rights Sites in Atlanta with Kids
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