Those hoping to visit Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home and longtime church to celebrate his national holiday next Monday will be unable to do so if the ongoing partial government shutdown is not resolved soon.
Government-funded parks, museums and landmarks nationwide have been shuttered as the White House and congressional Democrats came to an impasse over border wall funding Dec. 22, leading to the longest-lasting partial shutdown in history. Among the affected sites are major parts of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, at a time when visitation is at its peak, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The doors of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. practiced his preaching on nonviolent resistance, and of his childhood home on Auburn Avenue, will be closed until further notice, much to the dismay of those hoping to celebrate King’s legacy at his historic sites on Jan. 21.
Ebenezer Baptist Church is a place of enormous significance in terms of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and death. The civil rights leader co-pastored the church with his father for eight years, and it is the site where his mother was shot and killed in 1974, six years after her son’s death. The horse-drawn buggy which carried King’s body through the streets of Atlanta is also kept at the church.
The home on Auburn Avenue frequently has a line of visitors waiting to walk through its halls, and it was totally refurbished in 2017 in anticipation for crowds in 2018.
Park Superintendent Judy Forte told the AJC they were expecting even larger crowds than usually this year, because the Super Bowl will be held in Atlanta next month. In addition to the historic hometown MLK sites in Atlanta, the The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. will also be closed in the event that the shutdown lasts another week.
Bernice King, activist, author and daughter of Marthin Luther King Jr., was brought to tears while reflecting on the absence of National Park Service employees during the holiday this year.
“I feel a little bit of sadness because our main partner in this area, in this district, is the National Park Service … and they are not here with us today. I didn’t expect to cry over this,” she told reporters last week, according to WTKR.
“They are part of our family. Their struggle right now is our struggle,” she added.
More than 800,000 workers officially missed their first paycheck of the shutdown last week, leaving many federal employees to wonder how they are going to pay for their basic needs. Nine different governmental departments have been effectively closed, including Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, State, Transportation, and Treasury and the Interior – which contains 401 factions of the National Park Service.
For those residing in Atlanta still hoping to pay their respects next Monday, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (better known as the King Center) will not be affected by the government shutdown, an employee confirmed to Fox News.