Column: Civil rights center sets fall groundbreaking

By Maria Saporta
Friday, March 4, 2011

The National Center for Civil & Human Rights is closer to being realized.
On March 7, the center will hold three different events where it will provide an update to community stakeholders about the project’s funding, programming and the current status.

Most significantly, center officials are expected to announce they plan to break ground on the center this fall, which means that the new attraction would open in 2013.

Center leaders have said they would not break ground until they had raised at least 80 percent of the project’s construction costs. As of October, the center had raised $71 million out of the $85 million needed. It had just received a $1 million gift from Delta Air Lines Inc.

In December, the center also announced that it was hiring Deborah Richardson to be its executive vice president of fundraising and program development.

So, since the center is preparing to break ground this fall, it must also be making progress in its fundraising efforts.

But Doug Shipman, CEO of the National Center for Civil & Human Rights, did not confirm that the $85 million has been raised. He only said that there would be more specific announcements on March 7.

In addition to Shipman and Richardson, among the others who will be speaking at the briefing are former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, co-chair of the center’s board; and Jill Savitt, the center’s human rights exhibition coordinator.

Over the past several years, Atlanta leaders have been putting the pieces in place for the $125 million attraction. That budget includes about $20 million that will go toward an endowment and other programming costs for the center.

Center officials have selected the architectural team — the Durham, N.C.-based Freelon group and HOK of Atlanta — and their design. The design has two interlocking structures that hark back to the symbolism of the Civil Rights Movement when people would march with interlocked arms.

Massell, Diaz to be honored

Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business has selected its next two inductees to its Hall of Fame — former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell and Rene Diaz, chairman and president of Diaz Foods.

“The selection committee was very impressed with what they had done with their professional lives, but equally impressed with what they have done for the community,” said H. Fenwick Huss, dean of the GSU business school. “Their lives are wonderful case studies for our students.”

Coincidentally, both Massell and Diaz are GSU alums. The 27th annual Business Hall of Fame will be held May 10 at the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead.

Cathy birthday bash

It will be one of the biggest birthday bashes in Atlanta’s history. S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, is turning 90, and the Atlanta community is throwing him a star-studded party at the Woodruff Arts Center’s Symphony Hall on March 10.

Co-chairing the event are former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young and developer Tom Cousins. Among the performers will be: Jeff Foxworthy, Diana DeGarmo, and Michael W. Smith and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

All the proceeds of the ticket sales — which cost either $250 or $500 — will go toward a fund to revitalize an Atlanta youth community center, which will be named in honor of Cathy. For more information, call (404) 214-3597.

Boost for job training

The metro Atlanta community has been awarded a two-year, $300,000 grant to support innovative approaches to job training and career support.
The Metro Atlanta Workforce Funders Collaborative, which includes Atlanta’s United Way, received the grant from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

“The grant will be used to provide education, training and support services to disadvantaged workers,” said Diane McCants, senior director for income for Atlanta’s United Way. “In a region with an unemployment rate higher than the national average, it is critical that people have the skills required by employers for them to be able to compete in the new economy.”

big achievement for JA. If the JA Business Hall of Fame is an indicator, the economy is coming back.

On Saturday, Feb. 26, two Atlanta business leaders were inducted into the Hall — Veronica Biggins, a partner with the Hodge Partners search firm; and Doug Hertz, president and CEO of United Distributors Inc.

The event raised $465,000, compared with $350,000 in 2010. Nearly $400,000 of the night’s proceeds came from event and table sponsorships. It was the “highest grossing Hall of Fame to date,” according to Kristin Serrano, vice president of development for Junior Achievement of Georgia – Atlanta District.

Faith leaders praised

The Alliance for Christian Media and Day1 ministry held its annual benefit March 1 at the Piedmont Driving Club.

The event supports the radio and Internet ministry — Day1, formerly the Protestant Hour. The event honors “Atlanta Community Leaders of Faith.”

This year those leaders were Caroline Pace Hardin, a community volunteer; Jack Hardin, a partner with Rogers & Hardin; William Hatcher, retired vice chairman of Genuine Parts Co.; Leah Ward Sears, retired Georgia Chief Justice and partner of Schiff Hardin LLP; Richard Swindle, senior vice president of Mercer University-Atlanta; Clyde Tuggle, a senior vice president of The Coca-Cola Co.; Ellen Yates, a community volunteer; and John Yates, a partner with Morris, Manning & Martin LLP.

The Rev. Jimmy Allen also received Day1’s first Pioneer Award for lifetime of service.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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