'Growing Up King,' By Dexter King

One of the neighborhood boys was summoning us without risking an audience with Yoki. Smart move. We'd relocated to Vine City from the Old Fourth Ward in 1965. I spent my first four years in the Old Fourth Ward, up from Auburn Avenue, on Johnson Avenue, in a house the color of the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz. A liquor store now stands where the backyard of the house used to be. What's now Freedom Parkway was once our front yard.

Granddaddy's house in Old Fourth Ward, where the package store now stands, was on a hill, three blocks away from Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he was pastor, two blocks down from 501 Auburn Avenue. Granddaddy's name was Martin Luther King, Sr. He had two sons. The younger was Alfred Daniel King, Sr., Uncle A.D., named for my great-grandfather A. D. Williams, who'd also been pastor at Ebenezer, and who was the father of Alberta Williams King, my paternal grandmother, whom we called Big Mama. My father was the elder son, Martin Luther King, Sr.'s copastor at Ebenezer, among other things.

His name was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When my mother became pregnant with me, the family was moving to Atlanta from Montgomery, Alabama, where my father had been pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. He'd become famous or infamous there, depending on one's slant, as one of the architects of the Montgomery bus boycott. That action was spawned by Mrs. Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a city transit bus, a watershed event of the Civil Rights Movement. We moved to Atlanta after that.

The move helped my grandfather. His eight-hundred-seat church and his clout in Baptist circles were enhanced having my father rejoin him as co-pastor. But as far as joining him in the more affluent western suburb of Collier Heights, my father wasn't hearing it, in spite of my grandfather's insistence. We'd live in Vine City, with the plain folk.

A freeway was coming, as was Bunny. We moved because we needed more space and the freeway construction would displace us. The freeway became known as Freedom Parkway, which now takes you by the Carter Presidential Center. Back when the freeway was being planned, it was to be called Stone Mountain Freeway, taking you to Stone Mountain, where images of Confederate generals were blasted into the granite. But both the name and the route were changed. We needed a place, so we moved to the modest, roomy brick house on an undulating street, Sunset, at the foot of the Atlanta University Center, the consortium of five historically black colleges and universities.

It was a split-level house with a full basement; you entered the main floor by walking up exterior stairs aided by wrought-iron banisters painted white. The house is larger than it appears from in front. From that position you can't get the depth of it. Your idea of a thing is often based on the angle from which you view it. The house isn't narrow, yet it's much deeper than it is wide.

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