April 4, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. The single shot did not erase the legacy of the dreamer or the end of the dream. Although he traveled worldwide Georgia was his home and Georgia has embraced him as its most honored native son. Visitors can trace his physical life from birth to burial, his philosophical and ideological stances through public speaking events and his evolving civil rights strategies through open and clandestine planning locations. Best of all, Georgia's "Footsteps of MLK" tour includes sites where we catch glimpses of King the man, the husband and the father. #exploreGeorgia

Atlanta's Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, established in 1980, is the natural starting point. The National Park Visitor Center (NPVC) presents a film, "The Last Days of Dr. King," and has a small museum with a visual chronology, videos and a diorama of the Edmund Pettis Bridge march. Ebenezer Baptist Church, Heritage Sanctuary, was built 1914-22. In the 1960s King was co-pastor with his father, A.D. King. In 1974 his mother was killed by a gunman while she played the organ in the church. The church has been restored to its look during the 1960s. King's robe, sash and other biographical items are on view at the King Center. Outside of the NPVC stands the "Behold" monument dedicated to MLK's legacy. Entry to all sites is free. #footstepsofMLK

MLK was born on January 15, 1929, Michael King, in an 1895 Queen Anne home near the church and lived there until 1941. The home has been restored to the look of his childhood with assistance from family members. Thirty-minute guided tours are limited and guests must sign up in the visitor center. The area immediately around the home, declared a Preservation District in 1980, interprets young King's neighborhood.

King's 1.5-mile neighborhood, Sweet Auburn dates from the late 1800s and is a National Historic District. It remains largely residential and wayside markers provide historic context. The 1894, Romanesque Revival, Historic Fire Station No. 6 was the city's first integrated fire station and one of the first 8 original stations. The firemen gave Michael a hat and his first career choice was fireman.

The Georgia marble crypt of Dr. and Mrs. King, surrounded by a reflecting pool, is the heart of the King Center. King was moved there in 1970 and Mrs. King joined him in 2006. A park was constructed around the tomb in 1976. An Eternal Flame reflects the fact that MLK is a continuing symbol of the quest for universal civil rights and the ongoing dream. www.nps.gov/malu/index

Auburn Curb Market was built in the 19th-century. It was located at the center of the city and was where farmers brought their goods to sell. In 1924 blacks were expelled from the market and forced to sell their goods on the curb outside. People began to buy curbside because the prices were cheaper and blacks returned in the 1940s. The 2012 renovated market is filled with eclectic vendors and restaurants. www.thecurbmarket.com

Civil Rights Tours Atlanta leaves from the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site and conducts you through the history of Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement. The guide, Tom Houck, youngest member of the SCLC executive staff and driver and assistant to Dr. King, is extremely knowledgeable about the locations and events and shares his invaluable personal insights. Highlights of the tour include the Freedom Houses where SNCC workers took R&R, Wheat Street Baptist seen in Tyler Perry movies and Selma and the Peacock Club. Malcolm and Coretta had date nights at the Peacock Club which, because it is used in movies, looks the same on the exterior. King's office was in the Prince Hall Masonic Building. It had no windows, numerous bookcases and a large picture of Gandhi. A bronze sculpture of Martin Luther King, Jr. was dedicated in 2017 on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol. The statue stands 8-ft. on a 36-in. pedestal.

Dr. and Mrs. King lived in a house at 234 Sunset Street from 1963 until Coretta's death in 2002. There were three undertakers living on the block and MLK referred to it jokingly as "death row." This is the home where personal friends and families gathered to mourn in 1968 and where the King children grew up. 

The 25-acre South-View Cemetery was established in 1886 by founders who had once all been enslaved. In 1968 King's body was interred in South-View Cemetery in a family plot. Prior to being moved in 1970 his tomb was fired upon and a bullet hole can still be seen in the rear of the tomb. Many notable people are buried here and there is a 13-stop cellphone tour. www.southviewcemetery.com

Brothers Robert and James Paschal established Paschal's in 1947 as a small restaurant specializing in Southern food. Initially there was no kitchen and food was cooked at Robert's home and his wife brought it to the restaurant by cab. In 1960 they opened La Carousel Lounge where the biggest African American performers played. In 1968 they constructed a motor hotel with luxurious accommodations. Robert died in 1997 and James headed the company until his death in 2008. The restaurant was the unofficial headquarters of the movement, MLK held meetings on the premises and the leaders often stayed at the hotel. The restaurant is at a new location but it continues its tradition of excellent service, delicious Southern cuisine and star power. Chris Rock and Stevie Wonder have reserved tables. www.paschalsatlanta.com

Atlanta's National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened in 2014 with a focus on the state of and fight for civil and human rights in America and internationally. Exhibits on the first floor guide you through segregation and into the struggle to overturn it. The exhibits are interactive and engaging. King's papers are rotated every 4 months in a special gallery. www.civilandhumanrights.org. #Livethelegacy

Georgia is widely considered the homeland of the Civil Rights Movement. From the moment enslaved Africans landed in the Americas there have been those who fought for both civil and human rights. As early as 1785 a black woman, Lucy Terry Prince, argued her land rights in court against her white neighbors and won but it was not until the 1960s that the movement found a charismatic leader and a home. Georgia's Civil Rights Tour begins in Atlanta and guides you to the most important sites and museums connected with the history and activities of those who fought so tirelessly for freedom.

Macon's Tubman Museum, the Southeast's largest museum dedicated to the art, history and culture of African Americans, was begun in 1981 by a priest, Richard Keil. It opened in a new 49,000-sq. ft. facility in 2015. Visits begin with the mustard colored exterior, the color of Nigerian clay and a patchwork design reminiscent of the arts of basket weaving and quilting. Interior highlights include the "History of the Dream," a series of textile panels detailing the struggle from Reconstruction onward, the "King of Soul" Otis Redding photographic exhibit and "The World of Imagination" artworks. The featured exhibit is the 9-panel mural, "From Africa to America," created from 1988-2009. The jewel of the collection is an axe-handle, a "drumstick," autographed by Lester Maddox. In the 1960s he gifted them to customers of his "Whites Only" Pickrick Cafeteria to beat blacks who attempted to eat there. Maddox, a rabid segregationist, became governor in 1967. www.tubmanmuseum.com

The Douglass Theater, built by Macon's first black millionaire, was restored in 1997. The theater has its original wallpaper and molding. It was the site of the Teenage Talent Show won by Redding 22 times. All of the top black performers of the era played there and stayed at the Colonial Hotel above the theater. www.douglasstheatre.org

Bowden Golf Course was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first public places in Macon to integrate in 1961. www.bowdengolfcourse.com

The Albany Civil Rights Institute complex includes a museum, research center and the 1906 Old Mount Zion Baptist Church. The museum is entered through colored and white waiting room doors and proceeds to exhibits recounting the Albany Movement with emphasis on the story of The Lost Girls.

The first Movement meetings were held in Mt. Zion on November 25, 1961. On December 15, 1961 King came to Albany to speak. His first speak was at Shiloh and then he crossed the street to address congregants at Mt. Zion. He made 4 speeches in all. 

The church became the epicenter of the Movement's musical history. Pete Seeger suggested that funds could be raised for SNCC by Freedom Singers touring the country. They traveled 50,000-miles in 9 months to 49 states. The church presents scheduled programs of Freedom Songs led by founding member Rutha Mae Harris. www.mtzionofalbany.org

In 1944 15-year old Martin Luther King, Jr. participated in an oratorical competition, his first public speech, sponsored by the Colored Elks of GA. Martin's speech, "The Negro and the Constitution," won. It was held in the Albany Civil Rights Institute, founded in 1867, and maintains many of the original furnishings. Visitors, with reservations, can participate in an interactive program designed to facilitate a deeper understanding of the people and issues involved in the Movement.

Directly across from the church is Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument Park. A mural and semicircular timeline are exhibited along with three audio boxes that allow you to access his speech and commentary. #visitdublinga.org

Hub Dudley Motel in Dublin , GA

Dublin, because of its central location, was a frequent stop for activists. It is believed that the Selma March was secretly planned here in a motel owned by Hub Dudley.

Dorchester Academy

MLK Bedroom at Dorchester Academy

Dorchester Academy is one of the few nationally noted Georgia MLK Civil Rights sites outside of Atlanta. It was founded in 1871 by the American Missionary Association for freed slaves. Andrew Young and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began training activists here on July 17, 1961 in their Citizenship Education Program. It was also a planning location and King visited weekly. Most significantly Project C, the Birmingham March, was planned here. Visitors can tour the clearly marked grounds and see King's quarters and meeting room. www.libertycounty.org/dorchester-academy

sign at Riceboro’s Historic Baptismal Trail Riceboro’s Historic Baptismal Trail 

Riceboro's Historic Baptismal Trail begins nearby where for almost a century congregants from the nearby church were baptized outdoors at this site. Baptisms continued until the 1940s. www.libertycounty.org/historic-baptismal-trail

Pin Point Heritage Museum interprets the history of the isolated Gullah/Geechee community, Pin Point Island, the only remaining black owned property on the SE Coast. It was home to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The museum is located inside 4 restored buildings in the old A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory. Interactive tours allow visitors to learn about the history and culture of the Gullah/Geechee people as well as the factory that sustained them. The guided tour begins with a 35-minute orientation film. www.chsgeorgia.org

Sign at Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum in Savannah
Dr. Ralph Mark Gilbert, the father of Savannah's Civil Rights Movement, gave his name to the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. The 3-story building was originally a bank but now houses 11.800-sq. ft. of exhibits that relate Savannah's African American history from the 1700s to the present. A highlight of the tour is an interactive segregated lunch counter that presents both the black and white points of view. The museum offers the Footsteps of Savannah Tour that immerses you in the history by walking through the city. www.visit-historic-savannah.com/ralph-mark-gilbert-civil-rights-museum

Historic First African Baptist Church was the departure point for the first sit-ins. The church has its original pews and the holes in the floor are above a hiding place for fugitive slaves. www.firstafricanbc.com

Skull mug at Savannah’s Pirate House Restaurant

Savannah's Pirate House Restaurant is the oldest building in Georgia. Early records indicate it was called the Seafarer's Tavern. The complex consists of three buildings including the allegedly haunted 1734 Herb House. The menu offers delicious Southern cuisine. www.thepirateshouse.com