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Amid the Shutdown, MLK National Park Gets 16-Day Reprieve

It's all thanks to Delta's $84K
By Richard Kemeny,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2019 1:53 PM CST
Nekena Harris, getting her photo taken at the birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr. while visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park in Atlanta. Nekena was born 50 years ago today, the...   (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
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(Newser) – The Martin Luther King Jr. National Park reopened just in time for the federal holiday, and Americans have Delta, not Congress, to thank. An $83,500 grant from the airline—which has its headquarters in Atlanta, where the park is also located—will be combined with National Park Service recreation fees to keep the park open for 16 days, reports NPR. The park sees more than 670,000 visitors each year, but has been closed because of the government shutdown that has been rumbling on for almost a month, and "without the assistance provided by The Delta Air Lines Foundation, it would have remained closed during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend," says a rep.

Since Saturday visitors have again been able to see the house where King was born and his former church, among other facilities. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian quoted King in a statement on LinkedIn. "The time is always right to do what is right," he wrote, going on to explain that King's "powerful words ... resonate stronger than ever as we prepare to celebrate his life and legacy." The pledge means the park will remain open through Feb. 3—when Atlanta hosts the Super Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz stadium not even three miles away. The New England Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams, and thousands of football fans could visit the reopened park. "For everyone visiting Atlanta for the big game," wrote Bastian, "I highly recommend touring these inspiring sites." (Read more Martin Luther King Jr. stories.)

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