The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed Rep. John Lewis’ bill that, if signed by the president, would create Georgia’s first national historic park at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in downtown Atlanta.
Lewis has pushed for years to upgrade federal protections and reclassify the site, a change that his office has said would draw more federal resources such as park rangers, educational programming and community grants.
The bill — which is headed to President Donald Trump’s desk — would also add the Prince Hall Masonic Building to the campus that houses King’s birth home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church and a visitor center. The Prince Hall building formerly served as the headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
King was the first president of the SCLC, which trained many of the civil rights movement’s leaders and spearheaded voter registration drives and education initiatives.
The legislation is not considered controversial since its costs are negligible, but given the strained relationship between Lewis and Trump, it remains to be seen if the bipartisan endeavor will face resistance from the White House.
Lewis has openly criticized Trump’s presidency; Trump has fired shots at Lewis and his distrcit. Earlier this month, the Democrat said he would not attend the grand opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum because he’d have had to share a stage with Trump.
Another bill passed by the Senate Thursday would establish a U.S. Civil Rights Network within the National Park Service. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), would authorize the NPS to coordinate and facilitate activities to commemorate and honor the civil rights movement.
Washington correspondent Tamar Hallerman contributed to this report.
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