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The Atlanta History Center has offered free admission for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day in recent years, drawing a record crowd of 4,500 in 2018, a significant increase from 3,000 in 2017.

For this year’s holiday, observed on January 21, 2019, the Atlanta History Center will present a slate of illuminating free programming that highlights African American contributions and stories.

An event highlight is a screening of Frederick Lewis’ documentary Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask, about the life and legacy of one of the first African American writers to achieve national and international fame, followed by a conversation with the filmmaker.

Another highlight is talk by Adam Parker, author of Outside Agitator: The Civil Rights Struggle of Cleveland Sellers Jr. Fifty years ago, Sellers, the program director of Atlanta’s Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, was the scapegoat for the Orangeburg Massacre in South Carolina, one of the bloodiest civil rights events of the 1960s. He will join author Parker for this talk.

The special community day also includes immersive Meet the Past museum theatre performances and inspiring activities for all ages.

The Atlanta History Center will be open 10 AM to 5:30 PM on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Free admission also applies at the Atlanta History Center Midtown campus, featuring the Margaret Mitchell House.

Here is the schedule at the Atlanta History Center main campus in Buckhead (check AtlantaHistoryCenter.com for updates):

Featured Experience: Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask Film Screening and Conversation

Woodruff Auditorium

1:00 pm

Duration: 90 minutes

Ohio University professor and filmmaker Frederick Lewis discusses and screens segments of his two-hour documentary Paul Laurence Dunbar: Beyond the Mask, chronicling one of the first African American writers to achieve national and international fame. A poet, novelist and playwright who was the son of freed slaves, Dunbar (1872-1906) drew attention with his second collection of verse, “Majors and Minors” (1896), which mixed poems written in dialect with others written in standard English.

The winner of a regional Emmy Award for Historical Documentary, Paul Laurence Dunbar aired on many PBS affiliates, screened at festivals in Toronto, San Francisco and Atlanta, and has been presented at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and the Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. More than a dozen of Professor Lewis’ former students made contributions to the project, filming at locations throughout the U.S., editing, composing music, and assisting with research.

Featured Experience: Outside Agitator: The Civil Rights Struggle of Cleveland Sellers Jr.

Woodruff Auditorium

3:30 pm

Duration: 1 hour

Author Adam Parker discusses his new book Outside Agitator: The Civil Rights Struggle of Cleveland Sellers Jr. Program director of Atlanta’s Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Sellers became the scapegoat for the Orangeburg Massacre in South Carolina. Eventually pardoned, he went on to direct the African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina before being named president of Voorhees College, a historically black college in Denmark, South Carolina. Sellers will join author Parker for this talk.

Museum Theatre Experiences:

 Freedom Ride Simulation

Grand Overlook Ballroom

10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 4:30 pm

Duration: 45 minutes

Parental guidance 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 (Congress of Racial Equality) representatives and help challenge new laws banning segregation on interstate buses.

 African American Civil War Soldier Experience

Turning Point: The American Civil War Exhibition

11:00 am, noon, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm

Duration: 45 minutes

Space is limited; please arrive early.

Take on the role of a real soldier who fought in the Civil War for the United States Colored Troops after volunteering for duty in 1863. Presented with various real-life scenarios, you must make vital decisions that could affect your life and well-being.

 Newsboy

Kennedy Theatre

11:00 am, noon, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm

Duration: 15 minutes

Join a paperboy in 1906 as he educates new recruits on the “tricks of the trade” while highlighting the challenges he encountered as a witness to the Atlanta Race Riot that year.

Rosalyn Walton

Kennedy Theatre

10:15 am, 11:15 am, 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm, 4:15 pm

Duration: 12 minutes

Encounter Rosalyn Walton of the Atlanta Nine — a group of trailblazing students who integrated Atlanta schools — as she is being interviewed by a reporter, and concludes that being a regular teenager is nearly as difficult as being a civil rights trailblazer.

 Film Screenings:

 “I Have a Dream” (1963)

Kennedy Theatre

10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm

Duration: 20 minutes

Watch the landmark speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. as he addressed a crowd of more than 200,000 in Washington, D.C.

Ongoing:

 Activities and Crafts

  • Make protest buttons and signs
  • Create inspiring resistance poetry
  • And more!

Support: Funding for this program is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners under the guidance of Fulton County Arts Council.

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