ATLANTA — Martin Luther King Jr.’s rich legacy is commemorated in many ways, but the civil rights icon and his impact on American history often circle back to his efforts in creating a more just and equal society. That is part of the reason that Martin Luther King Jr. National Park was created in Atlanta nearly 30 years ago as a way to pay homage to him and to give back to the community where he was raised.
On Thursday, however, the park was the one on the receiving end thanks to a sizable donation.
ecoATM, a reCommerce company for consumer electronics that encourages economic and financial flexibility by planting kiosks in various locations where people can exchange their old phones for money, presented Martin Luther King Jr. National Park with a check for $10,000 to help fund an existing initiative that seeks to educate young people about the importance of recycling — especially at the park itself.
”We were right in the midst of our discussion on how we were going to enhance our recycling program,” Judy Forte, who serves as the superintendent for the park said during the ceremony in the northeast section of Georgia’s capital city. ”We will be working with our local partners on how to connect with them to even do more.”
The park lays in the center of what used to be the fourth ward of Atlanta and is of great importance to the community. It not only serves as a beacon for communal comradery but also encompasses King’s childhood home as well as Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he famously served as pastor beginning 60 years ago. The neighborhood surrounding the park is the one that King grew up in and marks an important part of the story into his development.
Tony Rome, a marketing strategist for ecoATM, said the importance of the park was a key reason that his company made the donation.
”King was not only a giant in terms of his commitment to changing the world but also he had a commitment to people and to inspire change,” said Rome during the check presentation. ”We are here today to give back to those people.”
The importance of Atlanta, especially in the larger context of Black History Month, extends beyond King and his everlasting legacy. The city has been at the forefront of social justice and civil rights as well as being one of the most important hubs in Black entertainment. That’s why both ecoATM and the Martin Luther King Jr. were placing an emphasis on making a difference in the community. ecoATM, in particular, has made a number of its kiosks available in Atlanta at malls and grocery stores.
Rome said the company’s kiosks serve as more than simply a way to earn more money — they are also fundamentally important as they are in place to keep the environment healthy as humanly possible.
“What we don’t want to have happen is have devices end up in the trash,” warned Rome. “There are hazardous materials in those devices that are bad for our environment”.
Instead of having used cell phones flooding the streets or being dumped in landfills the company’s goal is to be able to repair and fix the phones in order to reuse them, reducing the toxic waste that comes from these phones. This also helps the company offer phones and advanced technology to other people across the world in order to help them with obtaining the important devices that are becoming a staple in modern society.
As both the King National Park and ecoATM work on assisting the Atlanta community, both are also looking at the global impact and importance that they have on the environment and how to maintain a clean and sustainable planet.
”We try to envision Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community,” Forte added. ”We get to show how he was raised made him who he was.”