Ebenezer Baptist Church First Painting in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection
Shown at right is the first work in the Martin Luther King, Jr. collection. The collection is being commissioned by Ramesh Malhotra from area artist Marlena Hebenstreit. She describes below her reasons for choosing this as the initial work for the collection. The full collection will be unveiled on September 21, 2019.
Faith, Activism and Tragedy It seemed most appropriate to begin this series of paintings about Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. leading prayer at the pulpit of his pastoral home Ebenezer Baptist Church. Martin Luther King Jr. was profoundly tied to the church from his childhood baptism to his funeral in April 1968 after his horrific assassination. His spiritual legacy with the church ran three generations deep as his maternal grandfather Reverend Adam Daniel Williams and father Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. built the church into one of the city’s most influential African American churches in Atlanta, GA. The church’s early work began with promoting black businesses, home ownership and fighting for fair treatment despite Jim Crow’s laws. Martin Luther King Jr. was ordained at the age of 19 and became co-pastor of the church with his father until his death. After which his younger brother Reverend Alfred Daniel Williams King replaced him as co-pastor until his untimely death in 1969. Ebenezer Baptist Church was elemental to the start and growth of the civil rights movement. Many early civil rights meetings where held in the church. It was where Martin Luther King Jr. along with his best friend and mentor Ralph David Abernathy founded the Montgomery Improvement Movement (ultimately becoming the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) which organized and carried out the Montgomery Bus Boycott. One of the largest, most successful non violent protests in America inspired a nation to begin seeking equality. I also found it amazing that Martin Luther King Jr.’s mother, Alberta Williams King, was assassinated in the church along with a deacon during service while she sat at the organ 6 years after her son’s death.
“The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist
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