Photo by Janelle Ward/The Atlanta Voice

The City of Sandy Springs hosted a free interactive learning experience at City Springs on Monday afternoon honoring civil rights icon and Atlanta native Martin Luther King, Jr. on what would have been his 95th birthday.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Art and Film Celebration brought together parents, grandparents, and children of all ages to participate in a variety of King-themed arts and crafts and to view a private screening of the 1999 Emmy-nominated classic, “Our Friend, Martin.”

Sandy Springs mayor Rusty Paul said that the city has put on MLK-themed events for the community every year since 2005, making it the longest-running continuous celebration that Sandy Springs has hosted.

“It’s always been oriented toward the kids,” Paul said. “We want them to learn, and we figured that having a more tactile learning experience… would be the best way for kids to learn, because if you want to defeat hate, you have to start early.”

The mayor also said that it’s important to continue organizing community events that bring to light one of the darkest time periods of America’s history, even as critical figures of the era begin to pass away.

“It’s very important that we learn from our history — the good and the bad,” Paul said.

Each of Monday’s activities centered around specific elements of King’s legacy and mission: dream, justice, love, liberty, equality, and freedom. Kids designed keepsake bookmarks featuring quotes from King, completed MLK-themed word searches based on details of the civil rights leader’s life, and went home with a certificate of completion after finishing all six objectives.

Latoya (right) and Serenity Morgan. Photo by Janelle Ward/The Atlanta Voice

Latoya Morgan brought her daughter, Serenity, to Monday’s event to help her grasp the significance of King’s actions and the sacrifices made in the hope of a better future.

“I’ve always loved Dr. King — since I was 11 years old,” Morgan said. “So, I want to make sure she understands the legacy of the impact that his life had on the next generation to continue the work.”

Morgan said she brings Serenity to MLK-related events often, as a way to teach her about her ancestry and as a result of Morgan’s passion for civil rights.

“She needs to understand the elders that came before her and that the privileges that she now is afforded, like the life that she lives, didn’t come easy. It was with a price,” Morgan said. “There were people who laid their lives down for us to be able to have these freedoms.”