By Maria Saporta
Atlanta’s African-American legacy will live on in the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, thanks to a new gift announced Tuesday morning.
The family and business associates of the late Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson are leading a fundraising effort among minority business owners to raise $2.5 million for the center.
Jackmont Hospitality, a company founded by the former mayor, has pledged $250,000 towards that effort. Also Jackson’s daughter, Brooke Jackson Edmond; business partner Daniel Halpern; and Jackson’s widow, Valerie Jackson, will champion that special fundraising initiatives for the center.
““It is far and way the largest contribution we’ve ever made,” said Halpern, who is CEO of Jackmont Hospitality. “We wanted to contribute to the center to help in chronicling the rise of African-American entrepreneurship. Jackmont Hospitality wanted to honor the legacy of Maynard Jackson and the pioneering leaders in the 1970s who made sure economic equality was addressed.”
Doug Shipman, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, welcomed the special fundraising effort by Jackmont Hospitality.
“This is an opportunity to recruit others to the effort,” Shipman said. “It’s certainly exciting to be connected to the legacy of Mayor Jackson and the African-American business community, which is such a big part of the Atlanta story.”
Currently, ground-breaking for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is scheduled for October. But Shipman has said the center must have raised $85 million before they begin building the project.
The center had already raised $73 million, and this fundraising effort will mean that just under $10 million will still need to be raised in the next five months. If its fundraising stays on schedule, the center should open in the fall of 2013.
“We are feeling quite good about our prospects,” Shipman said, adding that the center has been exploring potential national and international donors.
Other major donors to the center have included: the Coca-Cola Co., Delta Air Lines, the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Home Depot Foundation, Newell Rubbermaid, Turner Broadcasting System and the UPS Foundation.
Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who is co-chairing the center’s board, was particularly pleased with the gift from the Jackson family and business associates. She worked in Jackson’s administrations in various capacities, including as head of the city’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs.
“ Maynard Jackson had a vision for Atlanta, and diverse business ownership was key to achieving it,” she said in a press release about the announcement. “Our growth into a major commercial and culture hub is to his credit, and it’s wonderful to see the next generation carrying the work forward….”
In that same release, the late mayor’s daughter, Jackson Edmond, said: “We are very proud to assist in mobilizing the business community in Atlanta in support of the center. This institution will be valuable to our city as we celebrate our shared history and apply the lessons in today’s world. My father and great-grandfather, John Wesley Dobbs, both knew Atlanta would become the capital of the new American South and a shining beacon of civil and human rights for the world.”
Jackson Edmond is the senior vice president of Jackmont Hospitality. The full-service foodservice company was founding in 1994 by Jackson Edmond, her father and Halpern. Today, Jackmont Hospitality owns and operates restaurants in five states and Washington, D.C. It also employs about 1,000 people nationwide.