Today, Martin Luther King Day 2017, feels like a good day to list some of my favorite places in Rep. John Lewis' 5th Congressional District in Georgia, from a visit one year ago, in January, 2016, which I will long remember:
- Emory University, where I learned about local food initiatives at the Wholesome Wave annual summit;
- the Eastside Trail, where a fun bike ride showed that Atlanta is capable of sustainable alternative transportation, beyond its car-centric reputation, for those who seek it;
- the Antioch Baptist Church North, full to the rafters with holy music and powerful Word, and totally welcoming to a (white) Christian visitor from out of town and (of all things) his Jewish friends who joined him for the church service out of ecumenical interest;
- the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which hosts the single most dramatic experiential exhibit I have ever witnessed, in which the visitor sits down at a lunch counter and puts on earphones (and to even say what happens next would be a spoiler);
- the Atlanta History Center, famous for Civil War memorabilia and the Margaret Mitchell house, but which also was packed with Hispanic visitors on the day I visited, because of a special program for Día de los Reyes Magos.
- the World of Coca-Cola, a museum dedicated to proving that any product, no matter how empty of nourishment, can be converted by a sufficiently bold and brilliant huckster into the subject of an advertisement so moving that it brings tears to the eyes of the most hardened food policy analyst;
- the Martin Luther King memorial and gravesite, because even young nations such as ours deserve a pilgrimage destination; and
- the Amtrak Station, because though I am flying less, our divided country fortunately is still bound together by old rusty infrastructure links that predate our current disregard for the environmental challenges of our times.
I will try to live the next four years with one foot in our democracy's painful contemporary struggles and the other foot planted in the better America that sometimes is hidden in plain sight. This is how I will try simultaneously to do good and enjoy life. Some may slander this good and profoundly American place, but the 5th Congressional District in Georgia has something to teach us.