By Hyde Walker
The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a highly appropriate milestone in itself, reminding its visitors to “Look how far we’ve come!” within the LGBT and Civil Rights Movements.
“The center uniquely and boldly connects historic freedom movements and iconic individuals, as well as everyday people, with human rights issues of today, thus sparking ongoing dialogue around the possibilities of the future,” said CEO Doug Shipman.
The United States isn’t perfect. Although we have come a long way, some statistics are grim. For example, LGBT people of color face higher unemployment rates than other LGBT races, while 28% of Latino transgender people and 34% of black transgender people are in poverty.
“Those working for freedom today use the Civil Rights Movement as a roadmap and look to Atlanta and the South as an example of past and ongoing efforts for equality – a place with a rich civil and human rights heritage,” said Ryan Roemerman, Interim Executive Director at the LGBT Institute, shedding light on the uniqueness of a difficult history that can only be found in the South.
“The story [of human and civil rights] would not be complete without discussion of the ongoing struggle for LGBT rights, and that is why The LGBT Institute is an integral part of the Center’s global civil and human rights platform.”
But therein lies the stark beauty and necessity of the CCHR. It stands as an effective and powerful representation of both the dark adversities and epic triumphs that are conjoined with all mankind.
The Center opened in the summer of 2014. Located in downtown’s Pemberton Place next to attraction magnets World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, the Center was the combined innovation of civil rights legends Evelyn Lowery and Andrew Young, and it required significant assistance. The Coca-Cola Company donated the land, and there was widespread support from community and corporate folks alike. The Center is now proudly open daily and presents remarkable gallery displays that touch on various social injustices still plaguing the 21st century as well as the histories behind them.
Some of those displays include: Forward Together – Atlanta’s personal LGBT history since the groundbreaking New York City Stonewall Inn riots in 1969; Rolls Down Like Water – the triumphant battle for equality with the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s that challenged Jim Crow laws; and Voice to the Voiceless – personal papers and items of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., courtesy of the Morehouse College MLK collection.
Much of the Center is interactive with technology that enables visitors to understand and connect with the complexities of human rights around the world. Want to go? MLK Day is right around the corner and a great time to go. For a nominal fee of $15, you can freely roam the Center and immerse yourself in all the journeys that have led us here to a highly flawed past yet sublimely hopeful future.
For more info and to purchase tickets online, go to www.civilandhumanrights.org.