January 21, 2013
In the grand tradition of perfectly timed (utterly by accident) Walkabout stops (see Jackalope Pub Crawl, Rock Chalk Jayhawk and Mardi Gras), my one day in Atlanta landed on Martin Luther King Day.
Atlanta was in full swing celebrating its favorite son.
My host, Makia, lived in Boston for 7 years, but is an Atlanta native. On top of that that, she is a Spelman alumna, practices medicine at Grady Hospital and teaches at Morehouse School of Medicine. She knows Atlanta like the back of her hand. And she had a full day planned.
I was in great hands.
To kick off the day, we drove in from Decatur and parked at Grady Hospital, which is a short walk from the Sweet Auburn district and the MLK Historic Site at the center of the day’s festivities.
Sweet Auburn is a historic business district filled primarily with black-owned businesses. And there is a lot of history there.
Among other things, we passed the Odd Fellows hall, and Southern Christian Leadership Council’s W.O.M.E.N. Building…
…while walking toward Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. followed in Martin Luther King Sr.’s footsteps to become pastor:
Ebenezer is an unassuming place, which makes it feel even more significant and plays directly into a key message of the MLK Historic Site next door. Martin Luther King was a man with an ordinary seeming church who accomplished extraordinary things through force of will, intelligence and belief in himself, his community and his country.
And guess what: you can too!
We went to the museums at the Historic Site next and I overheard 3 or 4 different schoolteachers telling their kids exactly this.
"You can do this. You are your own Martin Luther King."
That’s a powerful message anywhere. In the context of Martin Luther King’s own church on Martin Luther King Day, it was hopeful beyond measure. It got me.
And lest you worry that the spirit of service has been lost in a sea of reverence for MLK, we came across a beautiful community garden called Truly Living Well. Volunteers of all ages everywhere:
Whew…that was just the first two hours. Did I mention that Makia had a full day planned?
Next stop…Five Points and Underground Atlanta:
Underground Atlanta is a subterranean mall right in the middle of downtown. They celebrate Coca-Cola everywhere and Underground Atlanta was no exception. Makia also smoked me at arcade basketball down there. People were laughing at me.
Having spent quite a while in Boston, Makia appreciates walking like I do. Hardly anyone else there does. So we were the weirdos walking everywhere. It was great.
We walked to Centennial Park, World of Coca-Cola ($27 to get in!!!!) where we posed with Coke creator John Stith Pemberton:
We walked to CNN (it was a portrait taking kinda day):
We walked (with some help from MARTA) to Georgia Tech, where they have a marked running trail that is exactly Pi long (buncha nerds (I love it)). We walked to The Varsity and peeked in. We walked to Atlanta University Center, home of Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta University.
Spelman is a historically black women’s college. They are very strict about letting men on campus, so we had to explain to a guard that Makia was showing me the circle (basically the quad) and that she was an alumna. Kinda funny.
Here’s the alumna of the hour:
And here is the archway on the circle:
It is considered bad luck to walk under the archway before graduation, so no one does. Which of course makes it super exciting to get to walk through as a new graduate!
It had been a long day, so on the way home we drove through Little Five Points and the Emory campus and then grabbed a bite to eat in Atlantic Station.
Early to bed my peeps. I had a long one set for Day 19!
To come: Tiny Kathleen, GA, Savannah and an all out ridiculous dinner in Charleston!
States covered total: 18