Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The dream lives!

Honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by learning about his life and legacy as well as the many contributions of African Americans in Atlanta.  

This is a free admission day at Atlanta History Center, including Margaret Mitchell House.


Atlanta History Center Activities 
130 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta

Featured Speaker: Frye Gaillard, Go South to Freedom
3:00 pm
Duration: 45 minutes with book signing to follow

Go South to Freedom is an “as told to” slavery story for middle-schoolers, with a strong Georgia connection, written by award-winning Alabama author Frye Gaillard. The account of a daring escape to freedom by the Fields family was shared with Gaillard by the direct descendent of the family whose story he tells. Enslaved Georgian Gilbert Fields and his family ran away one stormy night, intending to travel north under cover of darkness, only to discover that clouds obscuring the stars had caused them to flee southward instead. They had no choice but to keep going, seeking sanctuary with the Seminole Indians of Florida and later a community of free blacks in Mobile.

With his friend’s blessing, Gaillard has expanded this oral history into a novel for young readers. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews said, "Alligator-filled swamps, a drowning, beatings, and terror … a realistic picture of what runaway American slaves faced. …  An informative and well-told story about a little-known aspect of American slavery that needs to be remembered and retold.” Bestselling young adult novelist Irene Latham called the book “a campfire story for all ages.” And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution added in its recent review, “Go South to Freedom has it all: danger, toil, tragedy, suspense, courage and a huge heart.”

In April, Frye Gaillard was honored with the Eugene Current-Garcia Distinguished Scholar Award, recognizing “scholarly reflection and writing on literary topics,” at the Alabama Writers Symposium. His previous honors include the Lillian Smith Award, the Clarence Cason Award, and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year Award.

Museum Theatre Experiences: 

Walking Through the Valley
Noon and 2:00 pm
Duration: 45 minutes

Join us for a special staged reading of playwright and Atlanta History Center Director of Museum Theatre Addae Moon’s Walking Through the Valley. In 1963, a young activist has been asked to alter the language in a speech he has written for what will become a historic event. He envisions a conversation with four historic freedom fighters in an effort to decide if a compromise with the "powers that be” will serve a greater good. 

Connie Curry
10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:30 pm
Duration: 15 minutes

Gather in the exhibition’s diner setting to meet Connie Curry, portrayed in a Meet the Past museum theatre performance, as she trains a new group of student volunteers for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and explores her journey in the struggle for civil rights. 

Rosalyn Walton
10:15 am, 11:15 am, 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm, 4:15 pm
Duration: 12 minutes

In a Meet the Past museum theatre performance, Rosalyn Walton, of the Atlanta Nine – a group of trailblazing students who integrated Atlanta schools -- is being interviewed by a reporter and comes to realize that simply being a regular teenager presents challenges as well.

Freedom Ride Simulation
10:15 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm
Duration: 40 minutes
Parental guidance is suggested. 

Do you have what it takes to be a civil rights movement Freedom Fighter? In this interactive theatrical simulation, test your courage by traveling into the Deep South on a Freedom Ride with Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) representatives and help test new laws banning segregation on interstate buses. 

Film screenings: 

The Big March and March on Washington features from the DVD Martin Luther King: ‘I Have a Dream’
10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm
Duration: 25 minutes

View newsreel footage captured during the March on Washington, the August 28, 1963 political rally, a key moment in the civil rights movement that culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“I Have a Dream” speech from the DVD Martin Luther King: ‘I Have a Dream’
11:00 am, 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm
Duration: 20 minutes

Watch the landmark speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. as he addressed a crowd of more than 200,000 people in Washington, D.C.

Ongoing activities:

  • Make a protest button
  • Create inspiring resistance poetry
  • And more

Margaret Mitchell House Activies
979 Crescent Ave NE, Atlanta

Featured Speaker: Calinda Lee, Ph.D., The Time is Always Right to Do the Right Thing: Lessons from Drum Majors for Justice
Duration: 45 minutes

Atlanta History Center historian Calinda Lee presents a talk about the remarkable, brave Georgians who helped form the ethos of equality and non-violence that shaped the young Martin Luther King Jr., as well as those took up his mantle to press for justice and equity after his death. Join us as Lee remembers Howard Thurman, James Orange, and Ruby Doris Smith Robinson — powerful voices who labored in  MLK’s tradition. And share your own memories of Atlanta’s unsung drum majors for justice.

Calinda Lee trained at Spelman College, New York University, and Emory University (where she received a Ph.D. in American Studies), and writes, lectures, and develops exhibitions on U.S. history and culture, with an emphasis on the South. The Atlanta History Center historian curated Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta.