COF: Atlanta’s "Beloved Community"

From May 2 – May 7, the Tactical Philanthropy Blog Team will be covering the Council on Foundations conference from Atlanta. The individual blog team members represent a range of opinions and have been given no editorial directions. The opinions expressed in these posts do not necessarily represent the opinions of Sean Stannard-Stockton.

By Catherine England, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

I’ve been to a wide variety of conferences in all sorts of places during my career.  I’d like to take a moment to commend the Council on Foundations for incorporating local site visits into the agenda for those who are interested. Not only does it give local organizations an opportunity to showcase their good work, it also gives conference attendees the chance to get out and see something of the host city aside from the airport and the hotel. I’ve never attended another professional conference that does this and think it’s a brilliant idea.

Today I was able to tag along on the visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District. It was an educational and inspirational afternoon. No trip to Atlanta is complete without a visit to the community that produced one of our nation’s greatest leaders.

The historic district runs along Auburn Avenue and includes the Ebenezer Baptist Church where both  MLK Jr. and his father served as  ministers. The family lived just down the street and the family home sat with traditional “shot gun” homes just across the street while next door and up the street were mostly larger homes of the more well-to-do families. On the other side of MLK Jr.’s childhood home was a fire department. Since the fire department would only hire white fire fighters at the time, it wasn’t uncommon for the King children to play basketball with the white firemen next door. The family house seemed to have been at a crossroads of economic and racial diversity – yet the neighborhood was peaceful and thriving.

Martin Luther King, Jr. often referred to the “beloved community” in his writings. King’s vision of a “beloved community” is a completely integrated community where love, justice and brotherhood are demonstrated in all aspects of social life. It sounds like, for at least a brief time, his childhood neighborhood personified the “beloved community.”

The King family and other organizations are working to preserve one of our true national treasures. If you missed the tour today, I hope you’ll have time to squeeze in a visit before leaving town.

Catherine England is the communications officer at The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

One Comment

  1. Donna says:

    I actually have a very different take on the MLK Historic Site. While I agree that it is critical to honor MLK and his legacy, the “beloved community” is falling down in its own backyard, in my very humble opinion: