A Historical Tour of Civil Rights Landmarks in Atlanta

The buildings at the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site were constructed between 1890 and 1920
The buildings at the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site were constructed between 1890 and 1920 | © Stillman Rogers / Alamy Stock Photo
Jacy Topps

Atlanta is known for being the cradle of the civil rights movement, notably between the years from 1940 to 1970. It was the birthplace of Christian minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr, along with countless other civil rights leaders, and prominent historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) continue this legacy today.

Honour the achievements of the movement’s revolutionaries by exploring the civil rights landmarks in the city.

1. The King Center

Memorial, Museum

Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968
© David Goldman / AP / REX / Shutterstock
Coretta Scott King established The King Center in 1968 in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. It is both a memorial and a historical museum housing numerous civil rights artefacts, memorabilia and archives about the activist, as well as Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks. Elsewhere, the outdoor campus is home to the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr and his wife. The King Center is mostly self-guided and admission is free to the public.

2. The Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site

Park, Church, Museum

The Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site comprises landmarks, rose gardens, monuments and historical displays set across 30 acres (12 hectares) of land. Highlights of the centre include the Children of Courage exhibition, which tells the story of the children of the civil rights movement, and Courage to Lead, which follows Martin Luther King Jr’s path during the civil rights movement, and a floral interpretation of his ideals of peace through non-violence. Another highlight is the home he grew up in. After his assassination on April 4 1968 it was restored as a historic museum, with Birth Home Tours offering small-group tours. Ebenezer Baptist Church, known as the activist’s spiritual home, is also a must-visit landmark on the grounds; Martin Luther King Jr served as co-pastor here with his father, Reverend Martin Luther King Sr, and his funeral was held here.

3. The Center for Civil and Human Rights


Downtown Atlanta in Georga USA Picture: The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum dedicated to the achievements of bot
© Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo
Connecting the civil rights movement to the human rights movement, The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a historic landmark in Atlanta. First imagined by civil rights leaders Evelyn Lowery and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, and launched by former Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2007, the centre is a self-proclaimed space for “visitors to explore the fundamental rights of all humans.” Hoping to instill a better understanding of the movement, the center features a Civil Rights Gallery where visitors can have an interactive experience of the issues. The exhibitions depict the courageous struggle of some individuals to achieve equal rights for all.

4. Atlanta History Center


The Swan House, an early 20th Century Buckhead mansion now part of the Atlanta History Center, Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia.
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
Founded in 1990, The Atlanta History Center connects people, history and culture. The large facility features gardens, trails and woodland areas. In addition to innovative exhibitions on the Civil War, the civil rights movement, African-American heritage and Southern folk art, the museum offers lectures with award-winning authors, music series and special programs on Martin Luther King Jr Day and Black History Month.

Culture Trip Summer Sale

Save up to $1,395 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article