Historical marker unveiled at home with ties to MLK and his family

ATLANTA — A local family with ties to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrating.

Their family home, inside the MLK historic park, now has a sign telling everyone about their legacy. The moment brought tears to the family’s eyes.

Gail Barnes-Goodwin and her family all gathered in front of the two-story home at 530 Auburn Avenue Thursday and reminisced about front porch sitting, and the supper cooking.

The home is humid with memories for Barnes-Goodwin.

“My grandmother bought this house in 1936,” she told Channel 2′s Bryan Mims.

The Nowell family put down deep roots on the street corner. They took in boarders -- or short-term renters -- for more than 70 years.

Back during segregation, houses like theirs were the only option for Black travelers.


“My grandmother expanded this house with rooms upstairs and rooms downstairs for boarders. Some of the boarders stayed with us 15 or 20 years. And still, I don’t think anything about it, because they were family,” Barnes-Goodwin said.

The house was just a few doors down from the King family.

Annie Nowell-Johnson lived in the house until she died in 2008, at the age of 101. The house was then turned over to the National Park Service.

For 12 years, Barnes-Goodwin worked to have a historical marker placed in front of it.

“I could hear their voices saying, ‘Keep going, just keep going. You can do it,’” Barnes-Goodwin said.

Now, she’s done it. In front of the handsome two-story house, a crowd was there Thursday as they unveiled a Park Service marker. It’s a snapshot of a family’s history. Of our nation’s history.

“After today, you will see the significance of this and your ancestors. So, it’s very special, very special day,” Barnes-Goodwin said.

The sign has a quote from Barnes-Goodwin. She said her aunts often provided Dr. King with childcare and that her father played with King as a child.

“These stories had a profound influence on me,” Barnes-Goodwin said.