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ATL’s Guide to ATL: For the Culture Edition

In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to give you a guide to one of the cities that is so deeply rooted in Black culture. Atlanta has been a mecca for African Americans who are seeking both opportunity and a bustling day and nightlife. It was my freshman year in college when I decided that after graduation I would not be returning to South Florida where winter doesn’t exist and palm trees and retirees are plentiful, but I would commence a new chapter in the city that brought us leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and trap music. I have been in Atlanta now for about a decade and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some of what this great city has to offer. In the future, I plan to compose a post about some of Atlanta’s most popular attractions but this post is dedicated to some attractions and experiences that have a heavy focus on African American culture. Check them out below:

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Historic National Park Site

One of Atlanta’s top tourist destinations is Martin Luther King Jr.’s Historic National Park Site. Visiting the site is free and provides a wealth of information. This site is inclusive of the prolific leader’s birth home, The King Center which includes on a raised pedestal the King crypt surrounded by a memorial reflecting pool and commemorative museum, and the original site of Ebenezer Baptist Church where King was baptized and later celebrated in his death. The site sits in the historic Sweet Auburn district of Atlanta which has a rich African American history. Along with King’s birth home, this area is notable for housing some of Atlanta’s wealthiest Blacks. The name Sweet Auburn was coined by John Wesley Dobbs, referring to the “richest Negro street in the world.” The street was home to many of Atlanta’s first Black doctors, attorneys, and bankers. Not far from the site, is the Royal Peacock Club which provided an elegant club going experience for African Americans which is still standing today and hosted popular African American artists such as BB King and Atlanta’s own, Gladys Knight. Information about your visit to the King Historic Site can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/malu/index.htm

 

The Center for Civil and Human Rights

In 2014 the city gained a new gem. The Center for Civil and Human Rights popped up on Ivan Allan Jr. Blvd. and added an element of African American History to the downtown area. The museum highlights the plight and achievements of African Americans during the Civil Rights era and even focuses on the broader worldwide human rights movement. I left the museum feeling both saddened and empowered. One of my most humbling parts of this attraction is the lunch counter experience. This experience is to bring to reality the risks peaceful protestors took in order to help desegregate the south’s lunch counters. Visitors engage in a simulation where they sit at a restaurant style bar put on headphones, place their hands on the counter, and close their eyes. As the simulation begins, you hear voices begin to hurl racial insults and threats and at one point (if you last that long) can feel your chair being kicked. Tickets to the museum are $19.99 for adults and $15.99 for children. Senior and student discounts are also available and additional information can be found here: https://www.civilandhumanrights.org

 

The Trap Museum and Escape Room

So nice I had to do it twice. As of now, the museum is still standing but since it is a pop-up it might not be for long. This is a hybrid experience that uses both art and interaction to showcase the evolution and journey of trap music and the impact it has had not only on Atlanta but music and Black culture as we know it.  Curated by T.I. who is undoubtedly one of trap music’s pioneers, the museum also helps to commemorate his first studio album “Trap Muzik” which debuted 15 years prior to the opening of the museum.  Visitors will get a chance to flick it up in front of 2 Chainz’ pink trap car that was previously housed in front of the Pink Trap House, or in Gucci Mane’s kitchen where you can find “bricks” and baking soda. See some of your favorite artists’ mugshots and experience a jail cell where some of your favorite lyrics were probably penned. You can also attempt to escape The Bluff if you dare for an additional fee. Tickets are $10 for the museum alone and $30 for both the museum and escape room. https://trapmusicmuseum.us/

 

 

The Oakland Cemetery

This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you consider yourself a true African American history buff you might want to take a stroll over to the Oakland Cemetery. This prominent graveyard is located slightly southeast of downtown and is situated between downtown Atlanta and Reynoldstown (a community that was originally settled after the Civil War by freed slaves who were employed by the railroad).  Visitors will notice that most African Americans had their own section of the graveyard, this shows the harsh reality of how segregated things were in previous times. Oakland Cometary is the home of the first slave child’s remains and many of Atlanta’s first and most revered Black doctors, politicians, preachers, artists and entrepreneurs including Atlanta’s first Black Mayor, Maynard Jackson. The cemetery has free entry but $5 guided tours are available. Additional information about the African American Grounds section project can be found here: https://oaklandcemetery.com/african-american-grounds-project/

If you live in Atlanta or are planning a trip in the future, you might want to add some of these things to your list. I knew that Atlanta had a lot offer with regards to African American history but I failed to realize how rich that history was until I became intentional about researching the place where I now reside and how integral it was in shaping our history as we know it.

“….No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place.”  -Maya Angelou

-ATL 🖤

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1 comment

  • Kathy Smith

    February 22, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Thanks Atlantis for the Educational background it was most informative. I really enjoyed reading this. Keep doing what you’re doing Auntie is sooo proud of you

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