The Atlanta History Center will present a thought-provoking day of programming for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16.
In recent years, the Atlanta History Center has offered free admission for the MLK holiday, drawing more than 1,800 to its Buckhead campus in 2016. For the 2017 observance, the institution is organizing a slate of free programs in Buckhead and at Midtown’s Margaret Mitchell House intended to engage the growing MLK Day audience on subjects from Civil War slavery to civil rights movement-sparked integration.
The Atlanta History Center and Margaret Mitchell House will be open 10 AM to 5:30 PM on this free admission day.
Here is a sampling of the programming that will be offered (check AtlantaHistoryCenter.com for updates):
AT ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER, 130 W. Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta
Featured Speaker: Frye Gaillard, Go South to Freedom
Duration: 45 minutes with book signing to follow
Go South to Freedom is an “as told to” slavery story for middle-schoolers, with a strong Georgia connection, written by award-winning Alabama author Frye Gaillard. The account of a daring escape to freedom by the Fields family was shared with Gaillard by the direct descendent of the family whose story he tells. Enslaved Georgian Gilbert Fields and his family ran away one stormy night, intending to travel north under cover of darkness, only to discover that clouds obscuring the stars had caused them to flee southward instead. They had no choice but to keep going, seeking sanctuary with the Seminole Indians of Florida and later a community of free blacks in Mobile.
With his friend’s blessing, Gaillard has expanded this oral history into a novel for young readers. In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews said, “Alligator-filled swamps, a drowning, beatings, and terror … a realistic picture of what runaway American slaves faced. … An informative and well-told story about a little-known aspect of American slavery that needs to be remembered and retold.” Bestselling young adult novelist Irene Latham called the book “a campfire story for all ages.” And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution added in its recent review, “Go South to Freedom has it all: danger, toil, tragedy, suspense, courage and a huge heart.”
In April, Frye Gaillard was honored with the Eugene Current-Garcia Distinguished Scholar Award, recognizing “scholarly reflection and writing on literary topics,” at the Alabama Writers Symposium. His previous honors include the Lillian Smith Award, the Clarence Cason Award, and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year Award.
Museum Theatre Experiences:
Walking Through the Valley
Noon and 2:00 pm
Duration: 45 minutes
Join us for a special staged reading of playwright and Atlanta History Center Director of Museum Theatre Addae Moon’s Walking Through the Valley. In 1963, a young activist has been asked to alter the language in a speech he has written for what will become a historic event. He envisions a conversation with four historic freedom fighters in an effort to decide if a compromise with the “powers that be” will serve a greater good.
Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta exhibition
10:15 am, 11:15 am, 1:15 pm, 2:00 pm
Duration: 12 minutes
In a Meet the Past museum theatre performance, Rosalyn Walton, of the Atlanta Nine – a group of trailblazing students who integrated Atlanta schools — is being interviewed by a reporter and comes to realize that simply being a regular teenager presents challenges as well.
Freedom Ride Simulation
10:15 am, 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm
Duration: 40 minutes
Parental guidance is suggested.
Do you have what it takes to be a civil rights movement Freedom Fighter? In this interactive theatrical simulation, test your courage by traveling into the Deep South on a Freedom Ride with CORE representatives and help test new laws banning segregation on interstate buses.
Make a protest button
Create inspiring resistance poetry
AT MARGARET MITCHELL HOUSE, 979 Crescent Ave NE, Atlanta
Featured Speaker: Calinda Lee, The Time is Always Right to Do the Right Thing: Lessons from Drum Majors for Justice
Duration: 45 minutes
Atlanta History Center historian Calinda Lee presents a talk about the remarkable, brave Georgians who helped form the ethos of equality and non-violence that shaped the young Martin Luther King Jr., as well as those took up his mantle to press for justice and equity after his death. Join us as Lee remembers Howard Thurman, James Orange, and Ruby Doris Smith Robinson — powerful voices who labored in MLK’s tradition. And share your own memories of Atlanta’s unsung drum majors for justice.
Calinda Lee trained at Spelman College, New York University, and Emory University, and writes, lectures, and develops exhibitions on U.S. history and culture, with an emphasis on the South. The Atlanta History Center historian curated Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta, the new cornerstone exhibition at the AHC’s Buckhead campus.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day sponsor: Funding for this program is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts Council.