A bill was signed into law this week that makes Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthplace in Atlanta, Georgia a national historic park, the USA Today reports. The bill, called the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park Act of 2017, was sponsored by civil rights icon Representative John Lewis (D-GA).
The bill also grants national historic park status to the church King was baptized in, as well as his grave. Both of these sites, along with his birthplace, were previously protected as national historic sites. Lewis said that it was important to have the sites upgraded to national historic parks in order to give the National Park Service more latitude in protecting and preserving each location.
The bill also expands the Park Service’s protection to include the Prince Hall Masonic Temple in the park; the temple was included to honor its history as the headquarters of King’s civil rights organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
President Trump signed the bill aboard Air Force One joined by MLK’s niece, Alveda King.
“Through his life and work, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made America more just and free,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said on behalf of the president after the ceremony. “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.”
After signing the MLK bill, President Trump signed two others concerned with protecting black history: the African American Civil Rights Network Act of 2017 and the 400 Years of African-American History Commission Act.
The former orders the National Park Service to link current civil rights movement sites that are currently separate under one umbrella; the latter commemorates the forced arrival of Africans in the New World at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619.