An impressive array of dignitaries led by former
President Jimmy Carter celebrated the June 27 unveiling of the Carter-King
Peace Walk at Freedom Park, a 1.5-mile stretch of the Freedom Park
Trail that connects the Carter Center and the Martin Luther King
Jr. National Historic Site, and is illustrated with new exhibits
chronicling the lives of its namesake peacemakers.
Joining Carter for the 35-minute ceremony were King’s widow
Coretta Scott King, Congressman John Lewis, Atlanta Mayor Shirley
Franklin, King’s sister Christine King Farris, as well as
representatives from the National Park Service and the Freedom Park
Conservancy. Former first lady Rosalynn Carter was seated at the
front of an audience that numbered more than 200.
“This Peace Walk symbolizes a journey that I and many other
Americans have walked—a journey of peace, nonviolence and
acceptance,” said Lewis, who delivered the keynote address.
The Democratic congressman was perhaps the ideal person to speak
at the dedication. He worked side by side with King during the civil
rights struggle of the 1960s and was director of a federal volunteer
organization during the Carter administration from 1977–80.
“A person who reads about these two great leaders cannot help
but be inspired, even just a little,” Lewis said.
“I hope this will be a transforming experience for Georgians
or anyone else who comes to this place to try and ascertain the
relationship between basic human rights on one hand and peace on
the other,” Carter said, referencing the path’s physical
location and the symbolism of its two endpoints.
An oasis of greenery in the center of a bustling city, Freedom Park
already is one of Atlanta’s more pleasant intown escapes,
and with the creation of the Peace Walk, it can be an important
educational experience as well.
The six exhibits, located adjacent to the park’s bike/walking
path, blend photographs of King and Carter ranging from child- to
adulthood with descriptions of the two Nobel Peace Prize winners’
lives and accomplishments. Freedom, peace, leadership and justice
are some of the sentiments offered by the colorful and easy-to-read
displays; reverent themes of remembrance, honor and personal and
community growth were touched on by every speaker at the dedication.
Coretta Scott King, in her remarks, said the path represented not
only the goal of peace but also symbolized the winding path necessary
to achieve it.
“I think my brother would be very happy that we have taken
yet another step forward in creating the beloved community,”
said Ferris, King’s only living sibling and a professor at
“I know that together we can, by looking at the legacy of
President Carter and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., continue to grow
as a city,” said Franklin.
The Peace Walk was funded through an anonymous donor who wanted
to give new meaning to Freedom Park, which winds through the middle
of Atlanta from the National Historic Site to the Little Five Points
“This is a special day for Atlanta and for the families and
supporters of both the Carter Center and the King Historic Site,”
said moderator Kara Lund, president of the Freedom Park Conservancy,
the community organization that will help maintain the exhibits
along with the Carter and King centers.
“The Conservancy looks forward to inviting people from around
the country to Freedom Park to experience the rich history of these
instrumental leaders and peacemakers,” Lund said.