Saturday, January 31

free at last! free at last! thank god almighty we are free at last!

Yesterday morning I was in Atlanta with two objectives in mind. I wanted to see the Coca-Cola Experience, which people at the hostel were raving about, and Auburn Ave. where Martin Luther King Jr. was born and gave his first sermons. Quite the polar opposites right?

I began by walking down Auburn Ave. through a neighborhood I wouldn't characterize as very safe. On three occasions I ran into corner boys who were clearly selling something I wasn't interested in buying. I would not recommend this stroll to people by themselves.

When I arrived at the visitor center, a whole two blocks are run by the Park Service, the ranger recommended I watch a video about King's life before wandering through the museum. Wait, let me first give a disclaimer. For the majority of the childhood that I remember, our family lived in what could loosely be defined as the suburbs, right outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Part of the reason my parents moved to Ann Arbor was because the city was lauded as a diverse place to raise your kids. In my lifetime I have never really been a witness to racism. Sadly, I know people who are probably racist, but I have never seen the aggression and hate in person before. I don't ever remember asking why people were certain colors or not being able to play with a friend because they were Black, Asian, or whatever. It's just something that has not been a powerful driving force in my life.

The Park Service's video on King's life was moving enough to bring me to tears. From the point I walked out of the theater until I walked away from the tomb of King and his wife Coretta Scott I was a wreck. I can't even possibly begin to imagine what this place would mean to a black person who grew up in the south while King was alive. I find it so unbelievable that one group of people could be so harmful to another simply because of the color of their skin. And that King was able to affect so much change through peaceful demonstrations and civil disobedience; there are no words I am capable of using to express how incredible that is. Seeing everything on Auburn Ave. really helped bring more perspective to what this nation has accomplished by electing Barack Obama as president.

Quite frankly, it's almost inappropriate to follow such an emotional experience with a trip to the Coca-Cola Experience, but caffeine is a pick-me-up. The "Experience" as it is called, is what you might think, a giant advertisement for Coke. However, it is very interesting to walk through and see how Coke started, how it has changed over the years and how it is made and bottled. Apparently a bottle of Coke cost five cents for seventy years until the company realized they could charge more and get away with it. Capitalism at its best. The best part of the whole tour is at the end when you can try over seventy Coke brands from across the world. Afterwards I was on such a sugar high I thought I was going to be sick. On to Florida!


1 comment:

  1. The MLK deal sounds great--I should check that out the next time I'm there. The Coke experience is "classic" (pun!). Did you try the licorice-flavored European Coke? If so, how much did you vomit afterwards? Next time try out the CNN center.