Trump signs bill to make MLK's birth site a national park

By Ray Downs  |  Jan. 9, 2018 at 2:15 AM
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Jan. 9 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed a bill Monday that will make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace a national park.

Trump signed the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act of 2017 aboard Air Force One, shortly after landing in Marietta, Ga. Alveda King, the civil rights icon's niece, was in attendance for a bill-signing ceremony.

"Through his life and work, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made America more just and free," White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters. "This important historical park tells his story, and this bill will help ensure that the park continues to tell Dr. King's story for generations to come."

In addition to adding federal protections and increasing resources for the site, the bill expands the area of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta to include the Prince Hall Masonic Temple, the former site of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which trained teams of civil rights organizers in the 1960s.

The bill was introduced by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in January 2017 and easily passed both houses of Congress later in the year.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lewis pushed for years to upgrade the status of the site. But in December, he said he would not attend the signing ceremony because he didn't want to share a stage with Trump.

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