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With Liberty and Justice for All

January 20, 2015
Governor Nathan Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal ringing the Liberty Bell

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929 on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. 39 years later he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. However, during those 39 years of life and the 47 years since, this man accomplished more than hundreds of people do in a lifetime — combined.

Each year the state of Georgia recognizes our native son with a Martin Luther King Jr. State Tribute. Not only are all state offices closed in recognition of Dr. King’s birthday, but for the last 30 years we have had a ceremony in his honor.

This past Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, Dr. King’s family, government employees, members of the media, Georgia residents and children gathered in the North Wing of the State Capitol to celebrate the life and legacy of this great man.

Governor Deal, Dr. King’s grandniece and Dr. King’s older sister gave extraordinary and inspiring speeches in his honor. His sister, Christine King Farris (the longest serving faculty member of Spelman College), told stories of a young King who was a “good dancer and snappy dresser” but who also had a dream long before he became a renowned leader. Professor Farris said that her brother always had something special and inspiring about him, even as a child. He had the ability to make everyone feel good when they were around him. He just loved people. Professor Farris said that not only was he a good talker, but he was also a great listener.

Governor Deal announced the state’s plan to add a statue of Dr. King at the Capitol’s “new front door” on the east side, overlooking Liberty Plaza, the newest addition to our Capitol grounds.

After the crowd honored the legacy of a great leader, it moved forward to celebrate our liberties and freedoms with the dedication and official opening of Liberty Plaza.

Liberty Plaza

The idea for Liberty Plaza (or something similar) formed in 1910, Governor Deal said in his remarks at the dedication ceremony. Finally, after over a century, we’ve seen it come to fruition.

Governor Deal and Marvin Woodward, Deputy State Property Officer, both explained that funds for this new plaza came from the surplus of sale from two GBA buildings. Taxpayers did not pay for its construction.

This park is meant to be a place where Georgians can express themselves freely and peacefully adding to the marketplace of ideas. Governor Deal said that in Georgia, we respect those with opposing views. The inscription of the Liberty Bell replica displayed at the south end of the Plaza reads, “Dedicated to you, a free citizen in a free land.”

Also in the plaza is a Statue of Liberty replica given to the state by the Boy Scouts in 1951. This statue follows the theme of liberty and is meant to symbolize hope.

To conclude the ceremony, Governor Deal and First Lady Sandra Deal rang the Liberty Bell three times: One for yesterday, one for today and one for tomorrow.

About the Author

Bethany McDaniel is the Editorial Director for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, Ga., with degrees in Visual Communication and History.

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