Contested memory in the birthplace of a king: A case study of Auburn Avenue and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Park

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27 Scopus citations

Abstract

A critical element in the process of racializing place is the construction of memorial landscapes. Using the Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site and the surrounding Auburn Avenue community as a case study this paper argues that the sites dedicated to Dr King along Auburn Avenue embody a normative Civil Rights discourse which emphasizes national unity and non-violence and serves to silence and reframe more radical interpretations of Dr Martin Luther King Jr's social thought and action. More specifically the King National Historic Site represents King as a mainstream leader who used the existing democratic structure of US society to affect social change. This is related to the role the King National Historic Site plays in the construction of hegemony. A critical aspect of this process is the way this normative Civil Rights vision is used to market an understanding of the City of Atlanta. Thus the King memorials along Auburn Avenue are important sites to examine the connections between race, place and nation and the way the memorial landscape dedicated to Dr King embodies particular social values and ideas about the historic legacy of race in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-109
Number of pages23
JournalCultural Geographies
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 27 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

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