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Column: Snow days delay Civil Rights Center opening a couple of weeks

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on March 28, 2014

The opening date for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights has slipped a few weeks with a soft opening now planned for May 30 and a grand public opening on June 23.

Originally plans had been to have the new attraction open on May 22 before the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“The ice storm shut us down for a few days,” said Doug Shipman, president and CEO of the Center. “We lost five days between the snowstorm and the ice storm.” Having the streets shut down made it difficult to have products delivered to the site to finish construction.

When explaining how he was spending his days, Shipman said how exciting it was to have the flooring installed in the Center on March 24.

The $80 million Center is being built on Pemberton Place next to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola across from Centennial Olympic Park.

Shipman said the grand opening on Monday, June 23, will include an outdoor stage with speakers and entertainers with people being invited to view Atlanta’s newest attraction.

The dramatic water feature, which is being fabricated off site, is supposed to be installed by May 30. The two 30-foot glass panels will have running water rolling over famous quotes etched in the glass. Shipman said the two quotes — one highlighting civil rights and the other human rights — have been selected, but they will be unveiled to add to the element of surprise.

Members of the Center’s board will be holding an event at the Center in early June. Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, who championed the development of the attraction, chairs the board.

The Center has adopted the tagline “Inspiration lives here” to be part of its brand. The public will have to wait for other surprises that will be unveiled as opening day approaches.

Curators have decided the rotation schedule to display the collection of Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers housed at Morehouse College, but the Center is not disclosing which papers will be part of the opening exhibit.

The display of the King papers will be rotated every four months, and that schedule has been set for 18 months — until Atlanta hosts the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Summit, Shipman said.

Wells Fargo’s Kinsey Collection

Speaking of exhibits … A provocative exhibit meant to dispel myths and encourage dialogue around African-Americans in the making of America will be opening at the Atlanta History Center on April 5 and running through July 13.

The exhibit — “The Kinsey Collection: Shared Treasures of Bernard and Shirley Kinsey, Where Art and History Intersect” — is touring the country as part of the observance of the Civil War Sesquicentennial and the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The collection features documents, artifacts and photographs dating from 1600 to the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Jim Crow years and the Civil Rights Movement. It includes more than 130 items, featuring never-before-displayed artifacts, including a first edition of Solomon Northrup’s “12 Years a Slave,” the basis of the Academy Award-winning film and W.E.B Du Bois’ first edition copy of his groundbreaking book “Souls of Black Folks,” along with the earliest known African-American marriage record, dating back to 1598.

“Atlanta residents and visitors can realize that the legacy of the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement – no matter their race or background – are inextricably linked and central to the lives of all people in the history of our nation,” said Sheffield Hale, president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center.

Rotary welcomes UGA president

When the relatively new president of The University of Georgia came March 24 to speak to the Rotary Club of Atlanta, he had an impressive cheering section — seven other university presidents.

The significance was not lost on UGA’s Jere Morehead, who was joined at the head table by John Wilson of Morehouse College; Georgia Tech’s Bud Peterson; Georgia State’s Mark Becker; Oglethorpe University’s Larry Schall; Beverly Tatum of Spelman College; Elizabeth Kiss of Agnes Scott; and Emory University’s Jim Wagner.

“I think the presence of all seven of these leaders tells you something of where we are going with higher education in this state,” Morehead said. “We recognize that we are all stronger when we work together and try to solve problems together rather than when we go and work on separate agendas.”

After the Rotary talk, Morehead was asked about the search for a new business dean for the Terry College of Business. UGA has decided to restart a search after not selecting one of the four finalists who toured the campus last month.

“We want to make sure we get it right,” Morehead said. Part of the problem is that UGA is really pleased with the job that interim dean Chuck Knapp is doing running the business school. “Chuck Knapp has done such an extraordinary job as an interim that it has made looking for a dean even more challenging for us,” Morehead said. “That is what you would expect from someone who served as president [of UGA] for 10 years.”

Bobby Dodd Institute

The Bobby Dodd Institute held its 13th annual Breakfast with Champions on March 27 to highlight companies and individuals who have provided employment opportunities for people with disabilities. More than 400 community leaders celebrated the institute’s 25th anniversary and its mission at the breakfast held at the Cobb Galleria Centre and presented by AutoTrader.com. They also honored the contributions of Phillip E. Miles, winner of the Circle of Excellence award; Corporate Sports Unlimited Inc., employer of the year; and Catherine White, employee of the year.

ADL honors outstanding women

The Anti-Defamation League Southeast region hosted the 17th Annual Jurisprudence Luncheon on March 24 at the Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, where it honored three outstanding women of achievement. The 2014 ADL Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Justice Carol W. Hunstein, who was appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1992 by then-Gov. Zell Miller, becoming chief justice in 2009 (and serving through August 2013).The 2014 Elbert P. Tuttle Jurisprudence Award was presented to Elizabeth Finn Johnson, senior counsel, employee relations, for The Coca-Cola Co. She is counsel to the company’s Global Workplace Rights function, which includes its human rights work. Lauren T. Estrin received the 2014 Stuart Eizenstat Young Lawyer Award. Estrin is an attorney for Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

Maria Saporta

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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