This adventure includes a few activities for the holiday season, but what about the rest of winter? Atlanta is known for its great museums, and the colder months are a great time to check them out. Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday in January and Black History Month in February are good reminders to plan a visit to one of Atlanta’s newest and most acclaimed museums, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The Center is dedicated to past and present human rights, with a particular focus on the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. It’s also the home to an important collection of Dr. King’s papers.
The museum was conceived in the early 2000s by a group of prominent civil rights activists that included U.S. Congressman John Lewis. In 2006, Dr. King’s estate decided to sell a collection of his papers, including drafts of important writings like “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Atlanta's mayor, Shirley Franklin, led an effort to purchase them.
The museum opened to the public in 2014 on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company at Pemberton Place near the World of Coca-Cola and Georgia Aquarium. The building was designed by architect Philip Goodwin Freelon who also designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
A permanent exhibit called “Rolls Down Like Water” broadly introduces the Civil Rights Movement. Another permanent exhibition, “Spark of Conviction,” examines movements for human rights globally, including the women’s and LGBTQ movements.
Selected items from the King collection are exhibited in temporary exhibits focused on a specific theme. For example, “Voice to the Voiceless” focused on King’s efforts to address racial injustice in terms of economic injustice. The museum also offers a variety of temporary exhibits and events.
Cover image by Marco Correa licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.