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Delta funding means King historic site will be open from Jan. 19 to Feb. 3

Ed Bastian

Ed Bastian at the Delta Flight Museum in October, 2017 (Photo by Maria Saporta)

By Maria Saporta

Thanks to an $83,500 grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation, the National Parks Service will open the doors of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park for 16 days – from Jan. 19 through Feb. 3.

That means the park, and its attractions, will be open during the national holiday weekend that honors Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. King, the pre-eminent civil rights leader who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, would have been 90 years old on Jan. 15. This year, the actual holiday will be on Jan. 21.

Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Photo by Kelly Jordan)

The MLK National Historic Park was been closed due to the federal shutdown. President Donald Trump and Congress have been at an impasse over passing a federal budget, even a temporary one. Trump has been demanding that the budget include at least $5 billion for a border wall or barrier. The Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives opposes the funding for a wall, preferring to invest in modern border security measures.

The standstill has brought much of the federal government to a standstill since Dec. 22, and it is now the longest shutdown in the nation’s history.

Delta’s grant – combined with revenue generated by NPS recreation fees – means the MLK Historic Park will be open when most of the country’s other national parks are closed because of the federal shutdown.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian explained why the airline was motivated to make the grant.

“Dr. King was about bringing people together and at Delta, we are about making the world a smaller place,” Bastian said in a statement. He added that leaders of the airline felt it was important “to ensure that the historical landmarks be accessible to the public.”

Ed Bastian

Ed Bastian at the Delta Flight Museum in October, 2017 (Photo by Maria Saporta)

The King National Historic Park, which encompasses 35 acres in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn historic district, includes several significant sites associated with King’s life and legacy. It includes the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King served as co-pastor; the home where he was born; the historic Fire Station No. 6 and a visitor’s center.

It will remain open through Feb. 3, the day when Atlanta will be hosting Super Bowl LIII. That means people visiting Atlanta will be able to tour the historic landmarks.

“This is yet another example of private organizations stepping up to ensure that our visitors from across the nation and around the world are able to have a meaningful experience at national parks,” said David L. Bernhardt, acting secretary of the Interior, in a release.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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  1. Alma Lotf January 18, 2019 1:04 am

    God Always turn and favor his children Thanks Delta and Ms. King she works so hard to keep her father and mother dream alive God Is Good and All The Time God Is GoodReport

  2. Courtney George January 22, 2019 11:45 am

    Does this mean the employees who are working at the site will also get paid through the grant?Report


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