Celebrating the Spirit of Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, Georgia
Sweet Auburn is one of those peculiar, but increasingly common, inner-city neighborhoods of old, rundown storefronts, cracked sidewalks, and abandoned, weed-choked lots, side-by-side shiny new high-rise condos and stately old churches with soaring steeples, one with a bright blue neon sign proclaiming "Jesus Saves." Martin Luther King, Jr., was born and raised in a house on the eastern, poorer end of Auburn Avenue, and today his birth home, together with a visitor center, Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the King Center comprise a national historic site. Perhaps the best time to visit is in early May, when the annual Sweet Auburn Springfest takes place, enticing festival-goers with food from sweet potato pies to jerk chicken, music from hip-hop to gospel, and vendors hawking African tribal art to the latest Obama-inspired t-shirt. She'll invite you to imagine the time when Sweet Auburn rivaled Harlem as the the social, cultural, economic, and spiritual center of America's African-American community. It's not for nothing the Sweet Auburn Springfest calls itself "the grandest festival of the year on the greatest street on the planet."