Photo Tour: Atlanta Civil Rights museum

Credit: David Tulis

Credit: David Tulis

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Also on display is an edited draft of 'Letter From a Birmingham Jail,' and, in Martin Luther King Jr.'s tiny script on torn sheets from a notebook, or perhaps motel stationery, the words to his sermon 'Drum Major Instinct,' delivered just months before he was killed.

The lighting is dim. Projected on one wall is "Yo tengo un sue-no," "J’ai un rêve," "Ich habe einen Traum" — the phrase "I have a dream" in 25 languages. In the nine cases in the gallery of Kings's papers and artifacts, only a sample of the 13,000 documents from the King collection can be displayed.

"It speaks to all sides of Dr. King," said Loretta Parham, director of the Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library, where the rest of the collection resides, "not only his activism, but his life as a student, his life as a preacher and his life as a scholar."

Traveling from one end of the museum to the other provokes a mix of feelings, but employee Tangelia Roberts, who was sweeping the stairs in the darkest part of the exhibit, in the section just after King assassination, said the top of those stairs brings reconciliation and light.

"I love it," she said. "Once you get to the top, you feel like you’ve made it to the mountaintop."