After Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination April 4, 1968, his widow, Coretta Scott-King established The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in his home town of Atlanta to honor him. In her words, the new center was to be, ““No dead monument, but a living memorial filled with all the vitality that was his, a center of human endeavor, committed to the causes for which he lived and died.”
It’s mission: “Educating the world on the life, legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspiring new generations to carry forward his unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today.”
The King Center itself is a resource center and home to Dr. King’s library and archives. While offices occupy the main building, it also features an exhibition hall which contains a permanent display of photographs and memorabilia of Dr. King’s public and private life. The digital archives contain over 10-thousand items pertaining to the King family and their lives.
Freedom Hall, at one end of the reflecting pool, is a space for meetings and other gatherings. The Center itself is not run by the National Park Service. Still, the grounds are park of the tours conducted so that visitors may pay their respects to the King tombs.
Dr. King was originally buried at South-View Cemetery, a few miles from downtown. As the King Center was being established, his body was moved here to a special white marble mausoleum in the center of a reflecting pool. When Mrs. King passed away in 2006, she was entombed beside him. The tombs and reflecting pool are at the center of the King Center Visitors can be seen paying their respects all day and every day, with more than a million visitors each year. The tomb area is open to the public to visit.