Historic MLK site closed during government shutdown

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

ATLANTA —

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site employees were told Tuesday morning to go home without pay until further notice as the site is closed due to the government shutdown. That means the park buildings, including Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Visitors' Center and Dr. King's birth house are closed.

Park superintendent Judy Forte met with her 28 employees at the Visitors' Center Tuesday morning where she told them they were on furlough for the duration of the shutdown.

"Today, we're sending employees home," said Forte minutes after the meeting. "We have been officially notified about the shutdown, and we are now implementing our plan to shut down this operation. The employees have been given their furlough letters. It's very emotional when you have employees who depend upon work and to tell them to go home and wait to be told when to return knowing that there will be no pay associated with that. But it's what we have to do. I will be going home as well. I'll be packing up and leaving shortly behind them."

But first, Forte said, her employees had to shut down all the buildings. That included placing signs in the window which read, "because of the federal government shutdown, all national parks are closed."

Forte confirmed the employees will not get paid for working Tuesday to close everything down, so essentially, they are working one day for free.

"Our hope is that it will end soon, and that we can return back to work," Forte said.