Here in the United States, it’s a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, but his birth is always celebrated the third Monday of January. (Today is David Lynch’s birthday however. The filmmaker and all-around idiosyncratic artist is 68 today.) So I thought I’d share a few postcards of King’s hometown.
As I’ve shared before, when I was a teen, I participated in a program called Sojourn to the Past, (the name of course is a nod to Sojourner Truth). This powerful educational trip is devoted to fostering social equality through nonviolent action. (In 2011, in a ceremony at the White House, Michelle Obama presented Sojourn to the Past with the nation’s highest honor for extracurricular youth programs.) Sojourn focuses on the Civil Rights Movement as U.S. history’s strongest example of how peaceful protest, largely by young people, can force sweeping change. High school student participants go on something of a pilgrimage through the South, learning about the Movement from its surviving leaders, in the places where they made their stands.
On my Sojourn trip, Atlanta was our first stop. After a full day of air travel, it was evening by the time we checked into our hotel. Nevertheless, we then loaded back onto what would become the two familiar charter buses. When the buses stopped, we found ourselves in the dark in a park. Ahead was the exposed face of a modest mountain, with Civil War guys on horses carved from it.
The bas-relief was conceived by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the 1910s. In 1915, the Ku Klux Klan re-formed at Stone Mountain with a cross-burning ceremony. The Klan continued to meet here until the state purchased the mountain in 1958.
I now understood why Martin Luther King Jr. mentioned Stone Mountain in his speech at the March on Washington:
So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
I received some wonderful books as part of the sojourn program, one of them being a compendium of photographs of King and the movement.