Many have said this is long overdue. Arguably, the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, had not yet built a place to commemorate those who fought for equal rights of African Americans in this very city. The King Center, established by Mrs. Coretta Scott King in memory of her beloved husband, has been open for nearly 50 years, but the builders wanted to create a space that goes even beyond the King legacy, and a place that also honors many of the other leaders that marched the streets of Atlanta for our freedom.
On Monday, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights opened to the public, in downtown Atlanta. The 42,000 square-foot building holds several sections devoted to the civil rights movement, as well as a closer look into the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr; which includes hundreds of his handwritten notes from his personal library.
Shirley Franklin, the chairwoman of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights suggests that Atlanta has claimed a history for itself as a place where people have encountered human issues, fairness issues, and justice issues, for years. She says that it took some time to get other civil rights activists and potential donors to understand that voting rights marches, sit-ins, and church bombings were linked to today’s global issue, such as slavery and immigrant rights. The museum’s galleries embody both of those issues.
Unlike other civil rights facilities around the country, this particular museum focuses on connecting the civil rights movement to other struggles for human rights world-wide, including gay, lesbian, and transgender issues, and even immigration – which still remains controversial. In an NBC News interview CEO of the facility, Doug Shipman, said “We want to have tough conversations but in a civil way.” Needless to say, the center is quite versatile.
The NCCHR is divided into three main exhibits: Rolls Down Like Water: The American Civil Rights Movement, Speak of Conviction: The Global Human Rights Movement, and Voice to the Voiceless: The Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. Shipman also stated the museum is not just for those who remember the history but a younger generation, the “22-year-olds who can’t even imagine it.” The team desired to “bring the stories to people that might not fight them otherwise.”
So if you are looking for something to do this summer, plan a trip to Atlanta, and experience history through the eyes of those who fought, and are continuing to fight, for our rights.