MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) - President Donald Trump has signed a bill to create a national historic park in Atlanta honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
The new law expands an existing historic site commemorating King to include the Prince Hall Masonic Temple. The temple served as the headquarters of an organization once headed by King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The site currently includes King's childhood home and a church where he was a pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Trump signed the legislation aboard Air Force One on Monday after arriving in Georgia to attend the college football championship game. He is being joined by King's niece Alveda King.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley says King made America "more just and free."
Next Monday is the federal holiday honoring King.
Dr. Bernice A. King released the following statement regarding the decision:
“On Nov. 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation making the third Monday of January a national holiday in honor of our father's legacy. Today, nearly 35 years later, President Donald Trump has signed into law the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Act.
“This act will increase the capacity of all of our collective efforts to preserve the shared work and vision of both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. On behalf of my brothers and The King Center, we are thankful to President Trump for this signing.
“Fifty years after our father's assassination and fifty years after our mother, Mrs. Coretta Scott King -- without skipping a beat -- assumed the mantle and marched our movement forward by establishing The King Center, we are once again witnessing the historical magnitude of the King legacy.
“This moment is significant because the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Park will be the first National Park that honors an African-American. It also fulfills my mother's dream of the King Historic District becoming a full-fledged park; and realizes her vision of including in the designated area the original building for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. co-founded and for which he served as the first President.
“I am encouraged today as we are still witnessing the fact that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it really does bend towards justice.”