Take A Walk In His Footsteps

If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but by all means, keep moving. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Alanna SobelNPF Blog
Stone monument depicting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Monument - NPS Photo / Volunteer Bill Shugarts

Every year, we come together as a nation to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honor his life and legacy with a national day of service. Walk in the steps of this civil rights leader and experience his story in our national parks year-round.

Visit His Birthplace in Atlanta

Two-story yellow house with brown trim, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Shutterstock

Known simply as “M.L.” by his family, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s early years in Atlanta are preserved and honored at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Stop by the visitor center to pick up a map of the park, which includes the home in which he was born and lived until he was 12, the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where he worshipped and preached, and The King Center, where Dr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King are laid to rest.  

Climb the Steps on Which He Spoke

An aerial view of the marble Lincoln Memorial. Several visitors walk up its stairs

Lincoln Memorial

NPS Photo / United States Park Police

In 1963, Dr. King was one of the organizers for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and on August 28 of that year, he delivered his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. A year later, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work championing civil rights and social justice. Stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, looking out into the reflecting pool and the distant Washington Monument and read or listen to his “I Have a Dream” speech. The spot on which he spoke is engraved to mark this iconic and defining moment in the civil rights movement and United States’ history.

Commemorate His Iconic March

A view of the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma, Alabama

Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail

National Park Service

In March 1965, Dr. King and other civil rights activists marched 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to bring attention to voter registration in the area. The Selma to Montgomery marches, one of which became known as “Bloody Sunday” after an attack on the non-violent protesters, garnered national attention and outrage and ultimately led to the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Drive the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail and stop by the Selma and Lowndes Interpretative Centers, which feature exhibits on the march.

Honor His Legacy at His Memorial

Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. etched into a marble wall, illuminated at nighttime

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Shutterstock

Dedicated in 2011, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is the first memorial on the National Mall to honor a citizen activist, not a United States president or war hero, as well as the first to honor an African American individual. The memorial is a place to contemplate his non-violent philosophy striving for freedom, justice, and equality. Read his quotes engraved in the memorial’s walls, taken from Dr. King’s speeches, sermons, and writings.  

This is just the beginning – many park units across the country honor the contributions Dr. King and other Americans have made to our shared history. Our national parks give us a chance to learn about our past and reflect on the leaders whose visions carried us to the present. We invite you to #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque and join us as we #StandWhereHeroesStood.  


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