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Morehouse Celebrates King's Legacy

By Shaneesa N. Ashford

Atlanta, the city too busy to hate, honors native son Martin Luther King Jr. ’48 as any hometown would – with services, parades, rallies and marches. And each year, a cadre of speakers remark on King as a figure larger than life – a peaceful leader during a turbulent time. This year, Morehouse celebrated the 78th birthday of its most famous alumnus with two major events.

At the annual “A King Celebration” concert in King Chapel, Morehouse’s Glee Club joined with the Spelman Glee Club and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in honoring King through music and song. At this year’s celebration, spoken word joined that list, as noted poet and author Maya Angelou recited, “A Pledge to Rescue Our Youth.” Angelou’s pledge promises that her generation will lend resources and support to future generations.

Eileen Thompson, a retired third grade teacher and first-time concert attendee, came to hear the ASO, but seeing Angelou added to the evening’s excitement. The Atlanta-transplant said her King holiday celebrations included riding the Freedom Train in California, but that she had not commemorated the day while here. She was happy that changed this year.

“In Atlanta, to have so much of his history here - to me we’re privileged to be able to take part in all of this,” she said.

While more than two million people tuned in to the concert on radio as it was broadcast on Jan. 15, others chose to see the civil rights leader’s work first hand, at the opening of the first public exhibition of the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. The exhibition, titled “I Have A Dream,” opened on Jan. 15 at the Atlanta History Center. The 600-piece exhibition, which is organized into ten sections chronicling King’s life, includes drafts of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and personal notes. Visitors also were able to view King’s books translated into numerous languages; telegrams for prominent business and civic leaders; and memorabilia from his days at Morehouse.

Morehouse is committed to developing partnerships with various groups and organizations, such as the Atlanta History Center, to sponsor educational events and exhibits. The school also is committed to stewardship and care of the papers and scholarly access for researchers.

Vickie G. Hampton contributed to this report.

Admission to the exhibition at the Atlanta History Center is free the first full weekend of every month and every Monday. At other times, the exhibition is included with general admission. The Collection will remain on display each week through May 13, 2007. The Atlanta History Center, located at 130 West Paces Ferry Road, is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon - 5:30 p.m. For more information, call (404) 814-4000 or visit

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