The Abernathy name holds a lot of respect in the city of Atlanta. In history books, Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy Sr.'s name is written alongside that of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the top leaders of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. As the grandson of the respected reverend and activist, Falcons safety Micah Abernathy uses his NFL platform to shine a light on the legacy of his family.
This is the story of the Abernathy family's quest to restore a key piece of history to its former glory.
In the early-morning shadows of Mercedes-Benz Stadium sits an old stone church with a bright red door.
When the light of day reaches its highest and brightest down Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., the sun pierces through the stained glass windows lining the sanctuary walls. Inside the building, echoes of history whisper through the corridors. This place, almost lost to history, was the strategic nerve center and spiritual haven of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Its pastor and leader at the time, Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy Sr., is the grandfather of Falcons safety Micah Abernathy, who plays most fall Sundays at that looming stadium right up the road.
Long before that stadium was constructed, the old stone church was there, acting as a beacon of light in a dark period.
Venturing back in time, the church's lifeblood was its people, a group of individuals both named and unnamed in history books that brought forth necessary change in America.
The 1960s was a time of tumultuous fear and uncertainty for Black men, women and children across the nation, particularly in the South. In Atlanta, schools, businesses and churches were extremely hesitant to open their doors to the Civil Rights Movement and its cause. Not West Hunter Street Baptist Church, though. The stone church was filled to the brim with men, women and children all hard at work in a place soon referred to as the "think tank" of the movement.
In the basement, young people were educated in the ways of nonviolent protests. Their bellies were filled as they learned and strategized. Women of the church, like Juanita Abernathy, made sure no one ever left the church hungry after a long day's work towards change.
Up the stairs and into the sanctuary, prayers and Sunday sermons were spoken as the sun shone through the bright and brilliant stained glass windows.
In a small, quaint office at the back of the church sat Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy Sr. and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on days too many to count. Two men, two friends, two leaders who spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement together, putting the wheels of change in motion in a church that, decades later, would need saving.