Groundbreaking ceremonies in and of themselves are a wonderful occasion. Beyond the pomp and circumstance, it serves as the starting point of the creation of a building or structure for some segment of the community to eventual partake of and utilize upon its completion.
In the case of last Wednesday, this groundbreaking is different. It isn’t just for one segment of the community, but for the entire world to partake of.
In the grassy knoll between the World of Coca Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, a who’s who of the Atlanta community, including legendary and current proponents of civil and human rights, the immediate Atlanta business community, the Atlanta political community, and local community organizations, are in standing room attendance for the groundbreaking of what is to be the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. MC’d by Atlanta media icon and soon-to-be retiring news anchor Monica Pearson, the day is focused on not only explaining the mission and purpose of the center, but to recognize those whose efforts are to be recalled and shared as part of the center’s scheduled 2014 opening.
At a cost of $12 million, the center’s purpose is to learn of the struggle for civil and human rights from a local, regional, national, and global perspective, as well as to celebrate the progress that has been made in the aforementioned areas. Likewise, in sharing practices in which civility is the order of the way human and civil equity can be achieved, in being able to understand and apply models as in the cases of proponents such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas K. Ghandi, current and future generations are able to be in an improved position in making their communities a better place to live.
Representatives from the Atlanta and global business community are part of the day’s celebration, as well as being part of the sponsorship team in helping make this concept a reality. Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, The Home Depot, Suntrust Bank, Georgia Pacific, Southern Company, Bank of America, The Arthur Blank Foundation, and Ford Motor Company represent a portion of the corporations who are supporting this project. Atlanta-based HG Russell and Company is one of the lead construction companies and contractors who is behind the design and building of the center, which should open during the summer of 2014.
(Current Atlanta) Mayor Kasim Reid and (former Atlanta) Mayor Shirley Franklin are among those from Atlanta city government who are able to address the audience, and Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell and others are among those in attendance. Civil Rights icons Andrew Young, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr., along with Xenora Clayton and Bernice King (the daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.) , are also present at the day’s events. Combined with timely performances by Les Nubians and Shawn Colvin, whose rendition of the Curtis Mayfield classic “People Get Ready”, the attendees are able to immerse themselves in an atmosphere of excitement, reflection, and hope for what the center is focused on bringing to the city and the world.
“This really is a great day”, notes Chris Hall, one of the student volunteers.
Celebrating and protecting the right for people to exist and coexist is the focus of the day’s events. As the days unfold to its summer 2014 opening and beyond, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights can be a resource that not only interlocks and interconnects with other venues such as the King Center and the Atlanta University Center, but can better connect this and all communities together with a focus on the protection and preservation of civil and human rights for all.
That’s more than breaking ground; it’s groundbreaking.