Last month, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. made headlines, like he did for most of his remarkable, truncated life as a crusader for social justice. On Oct. 13, Atlanta's Kenny Leon directed Samuel L. Jackson as Nobel Peace Prize-winner in the Broadway premiere of The Mountaintop, which envisions the King flirting with a Memphis motel maid on the eve of his assassination in 1968. Three days later, Barack Obama dedicated a 30-foot high granite statue of the civil rights leader at Washington's Martin Luther King memorial.
Both images of King hold equal fascination, the fallible human being and the transcendent icon of nonviolent resistance to racial discrimination. And though he died in 1968, part of King still seems to live in Atlanta. Along a few blocks of Auburn Avenue, you can't help but feel his presence at his birth home, at Ebenezer Baptist Church and the eternal flame of the King Center. And his timeless speeches aren't just the stuff of history, but calls to action that retain universal relevance. Martin Luther King's spirit lingers in Atlanta, serving as a constant inspiration to the good that people can accomplish while challenging us to live up to his example.