Legacy and Restoration
As the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta is full of places where important moments in history occurred. These historic landmarks should be preserved for future generations.
In September 2023, the foundation awarded a $1.5 million grant to Trust for Public Land (TPL) to support the restoration of the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta. The restoration project is being coordinated by TPL and the building’s owner, the Masons. Located on Auburn Avenue, the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge was the home of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and housed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s SCLC office. The building was also home to the first Black-owned radio station in the United States, WERD.
“The Trust for Public Land has been an unwavering champion and steward for this project and others along Auburn Avenue,” said Margaret Connelly, managing director, Founder Initiatives, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. “With this grant to TPL, we’re not only helping to preserve the physical building of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, but we’re also contributing to the preservation of the history that occurred there and the lessons to be learned by future generations.”
Along with Dr. King, one of the original founders of the SCLC was Rev. Dr. Ralph David Abernathy, Sr., a pastor from the West Hunter Street Baptist Church. Under the leadership of Rev. Abernathy, the church served as a strategic and emotional headquarters for the Civil Rights Movement. As time went by and the church fell into disrepair, Rev. Abernathy’s son, Ralph David Abernathy III, and his wife, Annette, made it their mission to restore the church to its former position as a vital institution in the Westside Atlanta community. After Ralph David Abernathy III passed away in 2016, Annette Abernathy took over the project and now leads the efforts of the Abernathy Center at the West Hunter Street Baptist Church.
In a full circle moment for the city of Atlanta, Rev. Abernathy’s grandson and Annette Abernathy’s son, Micah Abernathy, played for the Atlanta Falcons during the 2023 season. For the NFL’s annual “My Cause My Cleats” campaign, Micah chose to honor his family and his mother’s work by wearing cleats illustrated to represent the Abernathy Center.
“It’s my legacy,” Micah Abernathy said. “I feel like it’s what I am supposed to do. It’s what I want to do – shining the light on my family instead of myself. I feel like this is who I am. This is what I am supposed to do, and it feels good doing it.”
The foundation is proud to support and recognize organizations and individuals that are preserving Atlanta’s history and celebrating the institutions and legacies that will ensure that the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement remain at the forefront for current and future generations.