King papers exhibit opens to public
By GIOVANNA DELL’ORTO,
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA – As the Atlanta
History Center opened Monday for the first public exhibition of Martin Luther
King Jr.’s papers since they were returned to his hometown, people walked in,
hushed and quiet, and filed past King’s sermons, notes and books.
Bertis Post, 70, of Atlanta
said a prayer as she waited to be admitted into the dimly lit exhibit hall. The
retired nurse said she marched with King in Alabama and Atlanta, and the
exhibit brought back many difficult memories.
"I remember a lot that
I don’t care to say," she said. "I always wanted to see the papers in
person — just to be here and be around what you believe."
Post said she was especially
happy to see the many parents who brought young children to the exhibit.
One such parent was Mekia
Gravett, a 25-year-old mother of two from Villa Rica, west of Atlanta. She said
she wanted to teach her children about King so they would understand that
things weren’t always as easy as they are today and would appreciate those who
helped pave the way.
"I want them to know
where they come from; now it’s just part of history books," said the
dental student. Gravett said she especially wanted her 8-year-old daughter to
see all the books King read, and appreciate the importance of education.
Nearby, Derrick Byrd, who
brought his 8-year-old twins to the exhibit, was entering some of the titles
from King’s collection into his BlackBerry so he would remember to add them to
his reading list.
One of his daughters,
Moriah, said she wanted to read a book that King read: "To Be Equal"
by Whitney Young.
The exhibit, which opened
on what would have been King’s 78th birthday, includes King’s letter from
Birmingham jail, an early draft of King’s famous speech "I Have A
Dream," his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, and more than 600 of
his other personal documents.
The exhibit is a glimpse at
a portion of the collection of more than 10,000 King papers and books that
Mayor Shirley Franklin helped acquire for the city for $32 million from
Sotheby’s auction house last summer. More than 50 corporate, government and
private donors pitched in to give the papers to Atlanta’s Morehouse College,
where King graduated in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
The exhibit will remain at
the history center through May 13. The papers will then be housed at the Robert
W. Woodruff Library on the campus of the Atlanta University Center, which
includes Morehouse College.
Let Freedom Ring
READ: Isaiah 58:1-10
Is this not the fast that I
have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, . . . to let the oppressed go
free? —Isaiah 58:6
In 1963, during a peaceful
march on Washington, DC, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his now famous “I
Have a Dream” speech. He eloquently called for freedom to ring from every
mountaintop across the nation. The cost to him personally and to those who
joined his peaceful resistance movement was steep, but real change soon began.
God used that speech to awaken the conscience of the US to fight for the
freedom of the oppressed and downtrodden.
In the 8th century BC, amid
personal and national injustice, the prophet Isaiah was used by God to awaken
the conscience of His people. Their convenient spirituality had led them to
violence and insensitivity toward their fellow humans. God’s people were
oppressing the poor and substituting religious practices for genuine righteous
living (vv.1-5). God indicted them (v.1) and prescribed spiritual living that
would be expressed through turning to God in genuine repentance and setting
people free (vv.6-12).
Like Isaiah, we have been
sent to let freedom ring. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we must proclaim
that the captives can be released, that the downtrodden can be freed from their
oppressors, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come. —Marvin
I’ve got a river of life flowing
out of me:
Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see,
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free;
I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me. —Casebolt
No righteousness, no