Martin Luther King Jr. day featured in National Parks

Published 11:05 am Sunday, January 17, 2021

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The National Park Service hosts special events and provides free entrance to all parks in honor of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 18.

At the Wright Brothers National Memorial, Jan. 18 is a fee-free day.

At Fort Raleigh National Historic Site on Roanoke Island, learn about the Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke Island by visiting the visitor center with is open from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Information about the Freedman’s Colony is available at under the button “First Light of Freedom.” Fort Raleigh has no entrance fee.

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The website has a variety of resources related to King and the modern Civil Rights Movement, including timelines, photographs, biographical information, travel itineraries and the African-American Civil Rights Network.

The following national parks help trace King’s journey from birth to respected world leader:

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta preserves sites where he was born, lived, played, worked and worshipped. The “Sweet Auburn” community was the economic, cultural and religious center for Atlanta’s segregated black population throughout King’s lifetime and included the Ebenezer Baptist Church where King, his father and his maternal grandfather were pastors. The park is offering a virtual tour for the public on Jan. 18.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. has a plaque that marks the spot where King powerfully articulated his vision of equality. His “I Have a Dream” speech to the massive crowd gathered on the National Mall was the defining moment of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument in Alabama includes the headquarters and residence where King and his associates strategized a nonviolent campaign in 1963 against the city’s segregation laws and practices. The brutality displayed against them along with King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” written while incarcerated, brought international attention to the movement.

The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama includes the 54-mile route of the 1965 Voting Rights March led by King. The march was a political and emotional peak of the modern Civil Rights Movement.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., consists of a large stone sculpture of King, inscription walls, water features, an entry plaza and raised gardens that pay tribute to his actions and words related to the struggle for equality.

Traditionally, this holiday is a day of service, a “day on, not off,” that attracts thousands of volunteers to community work projects. This year, some parks will host work projects that have made adjustments based on health and safety guidelines.

January 18 will also be the first of six fee-free days in 2021 when all National Park Service entrance fees will be waived. Usually, about 100 national parks charge entrance fees that range from $3 to $35. There are free annual passes available for veterans and members of the U.S. Military, Gold Star families, citizens with a permanent disability and fourth and fifth grade students.