Martin Luther King Jr.Day: free admission to national parks

ATLANTA, Jan. 18, 2013 — National parks across the country are waiving entrance fees Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

That includes the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site here in Atlanta.

National parks will be open without charge a total of 11 days in 2013, according to the National Parks Service. The Fee Free Days in 2013 include National Park Week in April and National Public Lands Day in September in addition to Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“The holiday provides the perfect opportunity to visit a national park with a direct connection to Dr. King – a place where you could literally walk in his footsteps,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a statement. “Or, you could visit one of the many national parks or National Register of Historic Places sites that honor the Civil Rights Movement or other African American accomplishments.”

Roughly one-third of the 398 national parks charge entrance fees, which generally range from $3 to $25.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. changed the world. Perhaps best remembered for his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, King was born in Atlanta in 1929 and served as co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church from 1960 until he was assassinated in 1968.

Today, as part of the 35-acre Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, visitors can see King’s boyhood home, Ebenezer Baptist Church and the gravesites of King and his wife, Coretta Scott King.

Meanwhile, the King Center will be hosting its Annual Commemorative Service on Monday. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, will be the event’s keynote speaker.

The Center is also marking the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech with a yearlong celebration.

“The King Center’s challenge to people of all nations is to begin a new era of nonviolent conflict reconciliation bringing people together across racial, religious, political and cultural divisions in keeping with Dr. King’s vision of the essential unity of all people,” King Center CEO Elder Bernice A. King said in a statement. “We want to ignite a flame of Freedom in the hearts of people everywhere that long for peace, prosperity, justice, and yes, even brotherhood and sisterhood.”

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