Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace upgraded to national historic park

January 9, 2018, 5:39 p.m.
The tombs of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King at the King Center in Atlanta.
Photo: TimothyJ/flickr

President Donald Trump has reclassified Atlanta's Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site as a national historic park.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, was approved by the Senate Dec. 22, 2017 and was signed into law Jan. 9 by Trump aboard Air Force One after landing in Marietta, Georgia, before traveling to the the college football national championship in downtown Atlanta. King's niece, Alveda, was present for the private signing ceremony.

"Through his life and work, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made America more just and free," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters aboard Air Force One. "This important historical park tells his story, and this bill will help ensure that the park continues to tell Dr. King’s story for generations to come."

The now-historic park includes King's birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center (where King and his wife, Coretta, are entombed) among other spots around Atlanta. The bill adds the Prince Hall Masonic Temple, once the headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to the holdings.

As a historic park, the roughly 34-acre area will receive more federal resources, park rangers, educational programming and community grants that will help support the park.

Related on MNN: 10 surprising things you may not know about Martin Luther King Jr.