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JPMorgan Chase remains committed to King project

By Maria Saporta
Friday, March 2, 2012

JPMorgan Chase & Co. could not be more pleased with how its partnership with the King Center has turned out.

Since last April, JPMorgan has been working on the King Center Imaging Project — digitizing all the center’s archival materials, including speeches and papers of Martin Luther King Jr., and making them available on a new website: www.thekingcenter.org/archive.

The site was launched on Jan. 16, 2012, the King holiday.

“We just hit a million page views on the website,” said Ali Marano, who heads JPMorgan Chase’s Technology for Social Good program, which oversaw the King Center Imaging Project. “We have had 170 countries visiting the site.”

The project was just about to get launched when there was an abrupt change of leadership at the King Center. Martin Luther King III, who had made the initial proposal to JPMorgan when he was the Center’s CEO, was stripped of his CEO title but allowed to remain as president. King III then resigned as president, saying it was merely a ceremonial role. He was replaced as CEO by his sister, Bernice King.

“The King Center Imaging Project really was Martin’s idea,” said Marano, who added that the change in leadership had not changed JPMorgan’s commitment to the project. “It really hasn’t impacted us at all. Everybody involved is still committed to the project.”

Just after the change in leadership, JPMorgan relocated its imaging operation out of the King Center to an off-site location in Buckhead.
But Marano said that the move already had been planned and was not related to King III’s departure as CEO.

“We are committed to the project to the end of April, but we didn’t need to be at the King Center through the end of April,” Marano said. “We pretty much had taken over the library. Once we had finished the imaging part (digitizing all the King Center’s archives), there was no reason for us to be on site. We decided to give back the library to the King Center.”

While she did not specify an exact amount, Marano said that JPMorgan’s investment in the project had been a “multimillion-dollar investment.” It had about 300 people working on the project including veterans, students, scholars and nearly 200 JPMorgan Chase volunteers.

JPMorgan’s work is continuing at the Buckhead location where people are indexing the archives as well as creating a new section called “Bios” — profiling leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and writing abstracts of the different offerings to make the archives more accessible.

Marano said JPMorgan did leave one of its “imaging stations” at the King Center so it could continue adding archives to the collection. The goal is to transition the project so that the King Center will be able to manage the website and the digital archives on its own.

“We will continue to be involved in supporting the site for at least another six months after April,” Marano said. “We remain involved through the end of the year.”

The King Center Imaging Project received support from JPMorgan’s top executives, including CEO Jamie Dimon.

In a video, Dimon said it was important for the bank “to support Dr. King’s legacy because of the important values he committed his life to promoting, such as equality, equal opportunity and quality education for all.”

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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