“My friends, find your voice.”
His eyes seeing; hers shut in prayer… A child watches a giant-screen presentation about the March on Washington. MORE PHOTOS BELOW
My head was spinning just moments into my tour of the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the newest jewel in downtown Atlanta’s crown of attractions and in its history as a mecca of the struggle for equality.
So much comes at you, right from the start. TV news images of racists like former Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox saying the most hateful, ignorant, awful statements, the noise from several of the broadcasts competing in a cacophony of hate … Bull Connor’s office door… a bus covered in photos of Freedom Riders… a replica of a lunch counter that lets you hear and feel a sample of what it might’ve been like… those infamous film clips of hoses being turned on citizens… On and on…
Then the March on Washington and I Have a Dream, in a big room of white… followed by the Four Little Girls, LBJ, and then Martin Luther King’s assassination…
It’s so much that by the time I reached the end, when images were flashing on giant panels depicting civil rights struggles by women, gays, religious minorities and others, I heard a recorded voice say, “My friends, find your voice,” and something clicked.
The fight for what’s right is much bigger and scarier and out-of-control than that, of course. But learning to stand up for yourself and others like you, to use words to form community and share principles, hope and decency… well, it’s hard to imagine any kind of civil rights movement without the voices. All of them and each of them, from King’s magnificence to Rosa Parks’s quietude, from James Brown singing and dancing after King’s murder to the wails of sadness at the funerals, to LBJ’s White House leadership and the Nobel committee’s recognition of King. At the museum, King’s frighteningly powerful speech foreshadowing his death induces chills and gasps still.
Find your voice, indeed.
Click on a photo to make it bigger. Scroll over to see a caption.
The new museum is on a plaza along with other attractions in downtown Atlanta, including The World of Coca-Cola and The Georgia Aquarium.
This is the main spot for pics. (Hope you do better with the lighting than I did on my iPhone.)
From the mural int he front lobby
A collage completes an image of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The steps go down to the display of his papers and personal belongings.
A painting commemorates the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge.
Lester Maddox, a segregationist leader and governor of Georgia
A patron watches footage of Alabama Gov. George Wallace supporting segregation.
Some of the Jim Crow laws: no mixed marriages; no interracial baseball.
Photos of Freedom Riders on a bus
The murder of Emmitt Till was one of the key crimes of the Civil Rights Movement.
Bull Connor’s door stopped me in my tracks. This guy’s dad came and told him a little of the history behind “one of the most infamous racists in the United States.”
A boy watches film of the 1963 March on Washington.
His eyes seeing; hers shut in prayer… A child watches a giant-screen presentation about the March on Washington.
This display transposes images of King’s killer onto the sign from the scene of his murder.
Martyrs of the Civil Rights Movement
The Center for Civil and Human Rights, 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., Atlanta, GA, 30313. (678) 999-8990. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days.
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