The Center for Civil and Human Rights

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I visited The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Its purpose is to educate visitors about the rich history of the civil rights movement across the US while helping them connect lessons of the past to the present-day issues. The building was designed by Philip Freelon (who collaborated with David Adjaye on the National Museum of African American History and Culture) and it expresses a wonderful concept of unity. This is a small building but rich in content. The first floor focuses on the period of segregation and creates a dramatic entrance with walls filled with African Americans and whites doing the same things (graduations, parties, sports, playgrounds) separately, videos of historical figures expounding the segregationist rhetoric of the time and concludes with a lunch counter like those used by the Freedom Riders. You sit, put on headphones and are transported back in time where you feel the hostile crowds cursing you and breathing down your neck. The second floor expresses the major civil rights accomplishments of our generation and concludes with the memorial service of Martin Luther King where he wrote his own eulogy. The final floor expands the subject to the current era and focuses on global human rights beyond racial issues. It is so well done that you can watch people’s expressions physically change as they share the same range of emotions as you. I planned to spend 2 hours and ended after 4 ½. It was emotionally draining but very uplifting. If you are visiting Atlanta don’t miss this experience.

Ken Cooper

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