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A House Full of History

A house where Martin Luther King, Jr., planned a famous civil rights march is set to open at a museum in Michigan.
Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis, and other civil rights activists walk down a street, some carrying American flags.
William Lovelace—Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Martin Luther King, Jr., his wife Coretta Scott King, and other civil rights activists march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to demand equal voting rights.

A house in Selma, Alabama, where Martin Luther King, Jr., planned a famous civil rights march will soon be open to the public. The house will be moved to Michigan to be part of a history museum called Greenfield Village.

Jawana Jackson, who grew up in the house, sold it to the museum so it could be recognized for its part in the civil rights movement. In 1965, when Jackson was 4 years old, King and other civil rights leaders arrived at the house to plan a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Jackson’s parents had offered King, an old friend, the use of their home because they knew his work would be important to Jawana’s future.

“[Jawana] and children in this country and all around the world … deserve a better, a more even, a more just society. Whatever we can do to support you, we’re here,” Sullivan Jackson told King, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Thousands of people took part in three marches from Selma to Montgomery. These events helped lead U.S. lawmakers to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protected voting rights for Black Americans.

People will be able to visit the home where these marches were planned after it is moved to the museum in Michigan. Jawana Jackson says she wants the public to be able to see where King did some of his most important work.

“It became increasingly clearer to me that the house belonged to the world,” Jackson told the Associated Press.

Greenfield Village is a history museum in Michigan that contains more than 80 historic structures. Soon, the Jackson home will be one of them. Officials are dismantling the home so it can be transported to Michigan, where it will be rebuilt. Once open to the public, the home will contain some of King’s neckties and pants, as well as furnishings dating back to 1965.

The home is expected to open in the next three years.

Did You Know?

Greenfield Village includes a laboratory used by Thomas Edison, a courthouse where Abraham Lincoln tried cases as a young lawyer, and the building where the Wright brothers built, sold, and repaired bicycles.
Edison – Mark Cameron (CC BY 2.0), Wright and Lincoln – From the Collections of The Henry Ford

Making MLK Day a Reality

Black and white photo of Coretta Scott King seated behind a microphone.
Bettmann/Getty Images
Coretta Scott King was an activist in the civil rights movement whose work helped bring about Martin Luther King, Jr., Day.

January 15, 2024, is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, a U.S. holiday that marks King’s birthday. How did his birthday become a national holiday?

U.S. congressman John Conyers introduced a bill to honor King’s birthday in April 1968, not long after the civil rights leader was killed. But before a bill can become a law, it needs support from members of Congress. There was not enough support at the time, and the bill didn’t pass. Conyers would reintroduce the bill every year.

During the 1970s, due partly to the hard work of King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, public support for the bill grew stronger. Congressional support also increased. By 1979, the bill had support from U.S. president Jimmy Carter and a petition with 300,000 signatures. Again, Congress voted on the bill. It lost by five votes.

By 1983, public support for formal recognition of King was overwhelming. That year, both houses of Congress voted to make the third January of each year Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law on November 2, 1983.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Keystone/Getty Images

In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., won the Nobel Prize for Peace, which he is accepting in the photo shown above. You can learn more about Dr. King’s life and work at Britannica.

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activist

Part of speech:

noun

Definition:
: a person who uses or supports strong actions (such as public protests) to help make changes in politics or society
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