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Nobel recipient Muhammad Yunus promotes Atlanta as city of peace

Muhammad Yunus at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo

By Maria Saporta

At two separate events over two days, Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus spread his message of social business and peace in Atlanta.

It was his way to kick-off next year’s 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Summit that will be held in Atlanta from Nov. 15 to Nov. 19 – expected to be the largest gathering of people and organizations of people who have received the Nobel Peace Prize since the founding of the annual summit.

Yunus, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for the founding of the micro-lending Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, was instrumental in Atlanta being selected as a host city for the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit.

Andrew Young, Muhammad Yunus, Laura Turner Seydel, Shamima Amin and Mohammad Bhuiyan at the Gala Celebration

Andrew Young, Muhammad Yunus, Laura Turner Seydel, Shamima Amin and Mohammad Bhuiyan at the Gala Celebration

Only Yunus and his team could have had the ability to push politics aside for peace at a Gala Celebration Saturday night at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead.

At the Rotary Club of Atlanta luncheon on Monday, Yunus repeated the theme of the Nobel Summit making Atlanta a city better recognized for peace around the world.

A visitor from out of town, would not have realized Saturday night there was a hotly contested gubernatorial race underway in Georgia.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who is running for re-election, sat across the long head table from his Democratic opponent Jason Carter. Although both men were on the official program, politics was not on the menu.

Gov. Deal promised that Georgia would put on “a great show” next November and that people around the world would be coming to discuss the all-important issues of world peace and poverty. Just as Georgia was able to demonstrate in 1996 during the Summer Olympic Games that it could host a world-class event, it would do so again in November, 2015.

When it was Carter’s turn to speak, it was on behalf of his grandfather, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Carter said his grandfather always credited Martin Luther King Jr., who received his Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, for the evolution of the city of Atlanta, Georgia, the South and even Jimmy Carter’s life and platform.

Unveiling of Muhammad Yunus portrait at Rotary Club of Atlanta. Portrait by Rotarian Ross Rossin

Unveiling of Muhammad Yunus portrait at Rotary Club of Atlanta. Portrait by Rotarian Ross Rossin

“The real life work that built this community is going to be the focus of this summit,” Jason Carter said. “We have committed, all of us, to making this a summit about action. This summit will be about ideas, and it will be about action.”

When it was his time to talk at the Gala, Yunus spoke of why he believed Atlanta was an ideal location for the Nobel Summit.

“In my mind, Atlanta is a unique city,” Yunus said. “There is a heritage of peace, a long legacy of peace starting with Martin Luther King, and Ted Turner devoting his life – vowing to stop weapons of mass destruction. Of course there’s President Carter, Andrew Young… This is a tradition. This is your heritage. Why don’t we have a summit where everybody gets involved.”

Yunus said the Summit has the ability to bring the whole state together and to spread a message of non-violence to a new generation.

“We want the whole world to understand, to look at Atlanta,” he said. “It should be a summit of all people – arts and culture, peace activists, media people, young people, people from all over.”

Peace, however, will only happen when the world is able to rid itself of extreme poverty – which is the second half of Yunus’ message.

Muhammad Yunus stands next to his portrait at Rotary meeting after unveiling

Muhammad Yunus stands next to his portrait at Rotary meeting after unveiling

Social businesses are a way to lift people out of poverty and to help people develop businesses that will provide them a livelihood.

During his talk to Rotary, Yunus explained the way that the Grameen Bank had provided microloans to millions of women in Bangladesh, who then became owners of the bank. The proceeds of the bank was reinvested in the community in student loans or other civic ventures.

The idea has grown, and Yunus has broadened his work to include a host of other entrepreneurial ideas, which he refers to as “social businesses.”

“Solve human problems in a business kind of way,” Yunus said. That approach has led to setting up nursing schools and centers to provide cataract surgery throughout Bangladesh. It also has led to business opportunities in Haiti where commercial efforts are underway to reforest the country as well as to support the country producing its own food and fishing operations rather than importing almost everything it has.

“That’s what makes peace – when there is not poverty, when people have access to healthcare,” Yunus said. “Making money is a great happiness. Making the world happy is a super happiness.”

Yunus said he envisions Atlanta hosting a community-wide “March for Peace” event during the Nobel Summit in 2015, and he added that it could become an annual event.

“The whole world will be looking at Atlanta and saying Atlanta means peace,” Yunus said. “Atlanta becomes synonymous with this word.”

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.



  1. ATLpeace October 1, 2014 2:12 pm

    Greetings from Atlanta:
    City of Peace. Hello Maria. Thank
    you so much for using those key words [Atlanta,
    and city of peace] in your article title. You have indirectly propelled forward
    the huge dream that our organization has been cultivating for several years (now
    if we can only locate some courageous civic, government and business leaders
    who could assist us in scaling up our mission).
    When Dr. Yunus visited Atlanta
    four years ago, on August 28, 2010
    (“I Have A Dream” Anniversary), I had the great honor of meeting him in person (see
    photo). I hand-delivered our proposal offering to help with envisioning/building,
    in Atlanta, “The Yunus Center… which will propel Atlanta’s global peace
    legacy, plus look GREAT along with The King Center and The Carter Center.”
    Most fitting in his speech that day was his powerful quote:
    “For social structure,
    the arts and culture
    are the cure.”
    Maria, your art (writing) has contributed much to building
    the health of our great city over the years. Indirectly, your art and community
    action even nurtures the health of our extended family; our global family. Thanks
    for your formidable example.
    I am one of many that has recognized, for years, your direct
    influence upon our city and how you help Atlanta to draw closer to fulfilling
    its true destiny of being formalized into “Atlanta: City of Peace”…
    a global capital, nexus and beacon of peace. Dr. King’s birthplace is the best
    positioned city on Earth to fulfill that new brand and historic possibility of
    inspiring our entire global family and for many generations into the Peace
    Millennium ahead.
    Atlanta is WAY
    BEYOND being the unofficial capital of the South (representing 7 states and 77
    million people). Long ago, we even outgrew the indirect competition with Miami
    for “Capital of the Americas:
    North, Central, South!” Our city’s true destiny is to be transformed into
    a global capital of peace.
    Maria, will you please refer powerful patrons,
    philanthropists, professionals and partners to us? WITH the success of our
    mission, two things will be accomplished:
    A) Much needless future suffering and violence will be
    mitigated worldwide, and
    B) Most important, our global family will have GREATER HOPE
    for the future.
    They (we all) need this and deserve this. The consequences
    for failing in this are too great and everyone is reminded of this with a
    warning from the most published book of human history:
    “Without vision,
    people perish.”
    — Proverbs
    FACT: It’s a well known sad and tragic statistic that over 200
    million sisters and brothers of our global family died young and prematurely in
    the 20th Century! As for me and our organization, we will remain active in
    providing dynamic solutions so the statistics of this new century are NOT
    repeated, or grow worse. We will NOT be complicit in anyone’s suffering or
    early demise, plus we will focus on celebrating the GREAT peace actions,
    sacrifices and legacies of Gandhi & King, two of human history’s most
    globally respected and accomplished peacemakers.
    INVITATION: All co-creators and co-founders for Atlanta:
    City of Peace are welcomed.

  2. Golden Change Foundation October 16, 2014 12:12 am

    “Oh, surely one day he shall come to our cry,
    One day he shall create our life anew
    And utter the magic formula of peace
    And bring perfection to the scheme of things.
    One day he shall descend to life and earth,
    Leaving the secrecy of the eternal doors,
    Into a world that cries to him for help,
    And bring the truth that sets the spirit free,
    The joy that is the baptism of the soul,
    The strength that is the outstretched arm of Love.
    One day he shall lift his beauty’s dreadful veil,
    Impose delight on the world’s beating heart
    And bare his secret body of light and bliss.”
    SAVITRI by Sri AurobindoReport


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