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The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park—which includes the visitor center, King's birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the historic Fire Station No. 6—has been closed since the government shutdown began on December 22, but thanks to a grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation and money from NPS recreation fees, the park will reopen for the King holiday on and stay open through Super Bowl LIII.
One million tourists visit the King historic district every year—it’s one of Atlanta’s top draws. The busiest month is January, loaded with events celebrating the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Visitors are often baffled to find that two entities operate here.
Last summer, before an inch of film was ever shot on the set in Mississippi, the actor who played Jackie Robinson in 42 met up with the director of The Help in Atlanta, they rented a car and road tripped it together to Augusta. Getting the most minute details of James Brown’s life right was a top priority for Get on Up director Tate Taylor and actor Chadwick Boseman, who plays The Godfather of Soul in the new biopic opening in theaters today. With the tsunami of lawsuits and arguments that swirled after the soul pioneer’s 2006 Christmas Day death in Atlanta, it probably didn’t hurt to have the support of the Brown estate either.
At the national park bearing his name, Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke to a crowd that did not arrive today. There would be no students, no awestruck pilgrims, no laughing children. His voice, and his incomparable “I have a dream” speech, was broadcast from speakers perched above his crypt, which is in the center privately run by his family. King’s words echoed over Auburn Avenue: “Free at last! Free at last!”
As someone who writes history books and drinks bourbon with enthusiasm, I’ve naturally added Comedy Central’s Drunk History to my must-watch list. While DH might be sophomoric it certainly delivers laughs, and, occasionally, a little bit of learning.