Childhood Home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sold to National Park Service

Illustration for article titled Childhood Home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Sold to National Park Service
Screenshot: Jessica McGowan (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the childhood home of Martin Luther King Jr. has been sold to the National Park Service.

The home, which had been owned by the King family since 1909, was sold for $1.9 million to the National Park Foundation, who then transferred ownership to the National Park Service.

For the past 45 years, the home was owned by the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change Inc, where Bernice King serves as CEO.


“It is difficult to value something this significant in our nation’s history,” said Will Shafroth, CEO of the National Park Foundation. “It is a priceless asset. It is one of the most important places to tell the story of America.”

In an exclusive interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Bernice King revealed that the King Center had been considering selling the home prior to the death of Coretta Scott King in 2006.

“We are working on creating more robust, nonviolence training,” King said. “Our society is desperately in need of Dr. King’s nonviolent teachings right now in order to create a just, humane and peaceful world. That is what we are trying to put our energy in.”

The home, which was built in 1895, is located on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. Civil rights leader John Wesley Dobbs once deemed it the “richest Negro street in the world” due to its high concentration of fine homes and black businesses.


But for those alarmed by the sale, Bernice explains her rationale behind doing so.

“My mother never saw us in the interpretive or preservation business,” she said. “The National Park Service has been managing and upkeeping the birth home for years, we have just been the owner on record.”


The onus now falls on the park service to preserve this invaluable piece of American history.

Menace to supremacy. Founder of Extraordinary Ideas and co-host and producer of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Impatiently waiting for ya'll to stop putting sugar in grits.

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Old white guy

I’ve never really understood the whole ‘preserve the childhood home’ thing. If there’s something historical about the home itself, such as the secret tunnel they had to allow black preachers to come in and teach Martin the word of God, or there’s the burn marks left from the molotov cocktail some white kids threw through the window which helped him learn how to react to being attacked. If his bedroom walls are covered in writing he did as he worked on his sermons when he was young. 

But generally, houses are just houses. There’s nothing special about them, be it MLK’s or Donald Trump’s or Abe Lincoln’s.  But maybe others find it thrilling to see the table someone ate their cheerios at before heading to school.