New Wing to Feature Premier Space for MLK Papers; New Gallery to Engage Families and Children
ATLANTA (February 4, 2021) –The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation today announced a five-year, $17 million grant to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (The Center) in downtown Atlanta. As part of The Center’s capital expansion to add 20,000 square feet to the existing footprint and transform its programming, $15 million of the grant will fund The Center’s new three-story West Wing. An additional $2 million will be dedicated to new programming that seeks to connect our racial history to the present, bring diverse groups together, and make progress through conversation and leadership.
“The most effective way to make progress together as a community is to shine a light on the issues that exist and to then do something about them so that everyone can feel a sense of understanding and support,” said Arthur M. Blank, Chairman, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “We believe in the power of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to educate, include and transform the whole of this community and this country so that together, we can create tangible, positive change.”
The new three-story West Wing, which will be named at a later date, will include a 2,700 square-foot gallery on the lobby level to engage families and children, a 2,500 square-foot gallery to showcase the Without Sanctuary Collection of postcards of lynching and anti-lynching artifacts, gallery space for temporary and visiting exhibitions, and a 900 square-foot café. The top floor will feature the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, which guests will experience as the culmination of their visit.
Through the Truth and Transformation project, The Center will create the broad civic architecture and processes required for conversation and reconciliation about our community’s history of racial terror, violence and injustice – and the ongoing manifestations of these challenges today. The Center will use dynamic storytelling, sector organizing, and facilitated conversations.
“Arthur Blank invested in the idea of an Atlanta-based National Center for Civil and Human Rights more than a decade ago, before we had a building, and has been a champion ever since,” said Jill Savitt, CEO of The Center. “This generous gift allows us to expand our vision – to be a national organization working to help people tap their own power to change the world and to live with purpose. We hope Arthur Blank’s leadership investment invites others to join us in promoting fairness and dignity for all.”
The capital expansion and programming will provide the opportunity to scale the work around civil and human rights, elevating The Center to a national leadership role. The work of the Truth and Transformation project, with a national expert advisory network in formation, aspires to lead a community process on truth and reconciliation in Atlanta, which would include changing the name of the Atlanta Race Riots of 1906 to a more historically accurate name. A project partner, the Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University, is researching the lives — and deaths — of the riot’s victims as a way to set the historical record straight about Atlanta’s history with race and violence. Other project partners include the Emblematic Group (for VR storytelling) and Equitable Dinners (for community conversations).
With this commitment, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has provided more than $20 million to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, including an initial $1.5 million grant for construction of The Center in 2013. Blank, who hosted the annual NFL Owners Gala at The Center when Atlanta hosted Super Bowl 53 in 2019, has also pledged his proceeds from his recently published book Good Company to The Center in perpetuity.
About the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta is a cultural institution that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to the struggle for human rights around the world today. The Center features a continuously rotating exhibit from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, which includes many of Dr. King’s documents and personal items. Visitors to The Center are immersed in experiential exhibits – powerful and authentic stories, historic documents, compelling artifacts, and interactive activities. The Center is a source for ongoing dialogue — hosting educational forums and attracting world-renowned speakers and artists who work on a variety of human rights topics. For more information, visit www.civilandhumanrights.org. Join the conversation on civil and human rights: facebook.com/ctr4chr/ | instagram.com/ctr4chr/ | twitter.com/Ctr4CHR
About The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
Formed in 1995, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation promotes innovative solutions to transform the lives of youth and their families, seeking results that move communities beyond what seems possible today. The Foundation is focused on healthy families and healthy communities, investing in education and youth development, parks and greenspace, social justice issues and community revitalization, and leads giving programs for each of the Blank Family of Businesses, including the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, PGA TOUR Superstore, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, West Creek Ranch and Paradise Valley Ranch. Mr. Blank, chairman of the foundation, co-founded The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, in 1978 and retired from the company as co-chairman in 2001. Through the foundation and his family’s personal giving, Mr. Blank has granted more than $800 million to various charitable organizations.