Explore Atlanta’s history as the home of the civil rights movement
Discover Atlanta’s civil rights history in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Downtown Atlanta. From the birth home of Martin Luther King Jr., to the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, guests and locals alike can spend a full day exploring this historic area.
Located just east of Downtown Atlanta, the Sweet Auburn district is steeped in history. Famously the birthplace of civil rights pioneer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Sweet Auburn is the best place on Earth to connect with his enduring legacy. Not only does the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site engage visitors with an interactive center that explores King’s extensive legacy, in Sweet Auburn, you can even tour King’s birth home, as well as Ebenezer Baptist Church; the burial sites of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King; and the International Walk of Fame – an interactive memorial made of shoe prints from influential civil rights activists.
Walking the streets of modern Sweet Auburn, it is fun to imagine the neighborhood in its heyday. In the 1940s and 50s, Sweet Auburn flourished economically with scores of African-American-owned businesses, newspapers, churches, and nightclubs. The success even prompted FORTUNE magazine in 1956 to call Sweet Auburn “the richest Negro street in the world,” a term originally coined by John Wesley Dobbs.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, Sweet Auburn is experiencing a major upswing, investing in connectivity-boosting initiatives like the Atlanta Streetcar, which runs from the King Center to downtown’s Centennial Olympic Park. The annual Sweet Auburn Festival celebrates the past and the future of this neighborhood, attracting thousands of visitors annually. And the Sweet Auburn Curb Market has become a fun anchor for the neighborhood, providing a bustling and varied lunch option for nearby workers. Originally opened in 1918 and filled with a rich history of its own, the market has something for every palate, offering fresh produce, meats, and dairy from local and organic farms, as well as the wares of artisan shops and eateries.
Ready to see more? Take a self-guided tour of Sweet Auburn Avenue to experience the sites and historic places on this important street.
Did you know…
- Sweet Auburn is one of the best places in the city to celebrate Black History Month each February. Visit the APEX Museum, which presents our nation’s history through the eyes of African-Americans.
- If you’re visiting in February, try to see the Black History Month Parade, where the neighborhood’s history is celebrated with performances, guest speakers and lots of delicious food.
- The Royal Peacock Club provided an elegant setting where many African-Americans could perform.
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