The Truth is Not an Attraction in Atlanta

Turning the corner at Auburn Drive, I immediately braced myself for our impending step into history. This was a magical moment as the man whose words and actions changed the course of peoples’ rights in America was practically in reach. We read about him in school, a seemingly distant text on despondent pages just don’t do the man any justice (any half-asleep high school kid can tell you that).

This was the place where Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. Dr. King—a man whose work transcends time; whose teachings inspire people from all over the world; who studied Ghandi and preached the importance of tolerance and love to make change.

Part of me was expecting the same level of tourists we had experienced at Coca-Cola World and the Georgia Aquarium. The popularity of both attractions could rival the likes of Disneyland.

Yet, when we turned the corner, few people were there.

The childhood home of Martin Luther King, Jr. The childhood home of Martin Luther King, Jr.


Historic home, indeed. Historic home, indeed. tomb monument for Dr. and Mrs. King in Atlanta. tomb monument for Dr. and Mrs. King in Atlanta.


Millions of questions ran through my head about the stark difference of both the Coca-Cola World and Georgia Aquarium versus the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. Why was there a disparity in the amount of people attending Dr. King’s attraction?

Then I realized this wasn’t an attraction at all. By definition, an “attraction” is a “character or quality that provides pleasure,” or “an entertainment offered to the public.” Dr. King’s life isn’t an attraction.

I don’t think Dr. King’s site was meant to “entertain.” There is no dolphin show to befriend the masses nor the tastes of carbonated beverages from around the world. There is no pool of sea anemones to wantonly pet. There is absolutely nothing to distract you from the reality of history.

There is only the truth.

And truth is not meant to entertain.

It is meant to inform: Dr. King was a voice for a struggle like nothing this country has ever seen before. How an entire movement seized the nation to change an unfair status quo. Peoples’ lives were lost and others’ were changed forever in the name of equality.

Truth is meant to educate: to educate people that a man died because of hate, but lived on because of love.

It is meant to inspire: to show others what can happen if history is lost.  After all, Dr. King once said: “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” There is no truth more inspiring than that. I’ll take truth over the lackluster pleasure of high fructose corn syrup any day.

Have you visited the Martin Luther King National Historic Site? What do you think?

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6 responses

  • I haven’t but history interests me much more than any show at sea world.
    Really well written and makes me wonder about the differences in popular attractions in American versus Europe and the dichotomies between socio economics, education and history and how these influence how we want to experience the world through travel.


    • For sure, I believe Americans love shiny things. Perhaps we aren’t old enough to appreciate our own history yet. Or maybe, it does have a lot to do with education. I wouldn’t be surprised by any of that.

  • Hi, I live in Atlanta and have visited the site a few times, mostly when I have out of town guests. I would say on all my visits, there were a fair number of tourists. It was not dead but it was not packed either. They do cap the number of people allowed to visit MLK’s birth home each day and that often gets sold out if you do not book in advance. One of the sad things is that tourists are often told it is located “in a bad area” (often by locals) which is so not the truth. Maybe at one time, but certainly not now. And maybe that puts them off from visiting. I always encourage people to go. Not only is it a great history lesson, but it is free!

    • I would agree with that. People have commented on how “dangerous” the neighborhood is. We don’t think it is. Furthermore, the whole area was much more quiet than places like Coca-cola world and the Georgia Aquarium. Those two attractions were SWAMPED. I’d say the crowds practically rivaled Disneyland. We loved the everything there, too and you can’t beat free.

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