Kings Criticize Civil Rights Museum Site

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The Associated Press
Saturday, November 4, 2006; 3:16 PM

ATLANTA -- Two of Martin Luther King Jr.'s children say a proposed civil rights museum should be near their father's grave instead of in the city's tourism hub.

The 2.5-acre site that Coca-Cola Co. offered two weeks ago for the museum is near the Georgia Aquarium, the CNN Center and the future World of Coca-Cola Museum. Some city leaders say the civil rights museum should be less than two miles away near Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King preached, and the King Center, where he and his wife, Coretta Scott King, are buried.

"I would hope that we as a community and a city, if we were going to erect a civil rights museum, it would be in the King historic district," Martin Luther King III said told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

His sister, Bernice King, noted that the district already contains her father's birth home and other significant civil rights landmarks.

"It just seems appropriate to place something of this magnitude, a civil and human rights museum, in a place where it has more of a historical context," she said.

A King family spokesman and the King Center spokesman didn't immediately return calls to their offices seeking additional comment Saturday. The King Center's spokesman cell phone was temporarily out of service.

Xernona Clayton, who worked closely with King and traveled with Coretta Scott King on concert tours to raise money for the movement, said the Coke site is ideal.

"What better place to have the accessibility than a place where you have high traffic and is convenient for all to see the research," Clayton said. "I would share with others the sentimentality attached to Auburn Avenue, but I have not heard where anyone has offered anything on Auburn Avenue."

Coke spokesman Ben Deutsch said Saturday that the company had no comment. When Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Neville Isdell announced the land donation, he said the idea for a museum came from Mayor Shirley Franklin.

Mayor Shirley Franklin and the city council will decide where the museum will be built.

Franklin said Saturday that she disagreed with the two King children.

"I personally believe the Coke site is the perfect site," she added, because it would boost Atlanta's tourism appeal and promote access to the surrounding attractions.


© 2006 The Associated Press

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