About The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights believes in justice and dignity for all – and the power of people to make this real. We inspire visitors and our other audiences with immersive exhibitions, dynamic events and conversations, and engagement and education/training programs.

Details

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opened in 2014, is a museum and human rights organization in Atlanta that inspires people to tap their own power to change the world around them. The Center’s iconic exhibitions feature the papers and artifacts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the history of the US civil rights movement; and stories from the struggle for human rights around the world today.

We host performances, book talks, lectures, and brave conversations in our building and online through our Campaign for Equal Dignity.

Our education program brings history alive for students and provides teachers with tools to teach civil rights history by provoking critical thinking about democratic practice and civic participation.

We provide human rights training for law enforcement officials as well as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) experiences for workplaces. Our Advocacy Academy trains students, advocates and nonprofit leaders in how to engage in civic life effectively.

With a full-time staff of 33 and a part-time staff of 25, The Center has an annual budget of $6 million.

The Center was first imagined by civil rights legends Evelyn Lowery and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and was launched by former Mayor Shirley Franklin. The idea generated broad-based corporate and community support to become one of the few places in the world educating visitors on the link between the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s and the contemporary struggle for human rights around the world. The Center opened its doors in 2014; its groundbreaking 42,000-square-foot facility is located on Pemberton Place®, adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company.

Inspired by architecture and spaces associated with historic civil and human rights movements and events, The National Center for Civil and Human Rights creates a space for action. Conceived by award-winning architect Philip Freelon in partnership with HOK (now Perkins+Will), The Center’s unique structure is designed to enhance the experience of visitors and inspire them to learn about and take action for the civil and human rights movements worldwide.

His goal for the building was to create a physical representation of The Center’s vision. The curved walls of The Center represent two cupped hands, protecting something sacred: the dignity of all human beings. The exterior façade displays many tones, a mosaic of different nationalities that represents the idea that people from all walks of life can work together in harmony.

Phil Freelon was chosen following an international design competition. The winning design was then developed with the goal of creating a physical representation of The Center’s vision. The curved walls of The Center embrace the interior exhibits and supporting spaces in a manner that suggests the joining of hands. The colors of the façade creates the illusion of many tones, akin to skin and representing different nationalities. This powerful gesture also alludes to the idea that people from all walks of life can work together toward a common goal.

Occupying more than 42,000 square feet in Downtown Atlanta, The Center is located on Pemberton Place®, adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company. The building was designed with sustainability in mind and features a green roof, flanked by two plazas. One plaza welcomes pedestrians from Pemberton Place, while the rear plaza opens onto Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard and features a glass and steel water sculpture with etched quotations from Nelson Mandela and Margaret Mead.

The Center has three levels of exhibition galleries and event spaces. The main entrance, accessible from Pemberton Place, is on the lobby (2nd) level, which hosts the U.S. Civil Rights exhibition.

The lower (1st) level houses the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection in the Voice to the Voiceless Gallery as well as a multi-purpose event space overlooking the lower plaza. This space is available to rent for private parties.

The top (3rd) level of The Center houses “Spark of Conviction,” our global human rights exhibition, and a mezzanine overlooking Pemberton Place, Centennial Olympic Park and downtown Atlanta.

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