You didn’t know what you were going to encounter. You had night riders. You had hoodlums . . . You could be antagonized at any tim point in your journey.” “Traveling in the segregated South for blac people was humiliating. The very fact that there were separate b facilities was to say to black people and white people that we as blacks were so subhuman and so inferior that we could not even use public facilities that white people used.” “I spoke to a innocen passenger who was sitting there and said, ‘I’m sorry I got you into this.’ And he said, ‘So am I.’” “I felt so nervous walking up there It felt like I was actually walking into a lunch room. When I sat down and put the headphones on I felt like I was there. A the person was screaming in my ear and I looked at myself, and all I could do is stare. Stare and wait for whatever happ to happen. Fortunately, I was able to get up and walk out, an but many of people weren’t so lucky. It was very a moving” “Hearing what political figures would say is shocking! They were on national television talking about black people as if if they didn’t even matter.” “I often wonder whether we do not rest our hopes too much upon constitutions, upon laws, and upon courts. These are false believe me, theseMovement are false hopes. Experience Thehopes; American Civil Rights Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, nor court can save it. The blood of these innocent girls may cause the whole citizenry to transform th negative extremes of a dark past into the positive extremes of a bright future.” “So much history, so little time. I want so to bring my grand children and teach them about history. Ta My history. OUR history.” “There is an amazing democracy about death. It is not aristocracy for some of the people, but a democracy for all of the people. Kings die and beggars die rich men and poor men die; old people die and young peopl die. Death comes to the innocent and it comes to the guilty. Death is the irreducible common denominator of all men.”
Find Inspiration Inside
Center For Civil And Human Rights 100 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta, GA 30313 678.999.8990 10am - 5pm
Find Inspiration Inside
Experience The American Civil Rights Movement
The American Civil Rights Movement
Jim Crow Laws
Four Colored Girls
Then and Now
MLK The thinker/writer/activist
Death of MLK
The Cost of Freedom
Introduction Atlanta native, Ashley Jones, has been lived in Atlanta her whole life, but never visited the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Follow her through her journey through the exhibit, hear how she and others describe the experience of seeing history in physical form. The Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta is an engaging cultural attraction that connects the American Civil Rights Movement to todayâ€™s Global Human Rights Movements. Our purpose is to create a safe space for visitors to explore the fundamental rights of all human beings so that they leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities. The Center was first imagined by Civil Rights legends Evelyn Lowery and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and was launched by former Mayor Shirley Franklin. The effort gained broadâ€“ based corporate and community support to become one of the few places in the world educating visitors on the bridge between the American Civil Rights Movement and contemporary Human Rights Movements around the world.
Rolls Down Like Water The American Civil Rights Movement The Civil Rights Movement gallery presents the brave fight for equality in The American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Visitors will be immersed in a visceral experience of sights, sounds and interactive displays depicting the cwourageous struggles of individuals working to transform the United States from Jim Crow laws to equal rights.
Turn to the Segregationists
By the mid–20th century the American South was caught between tradition and change. In the decades following the end of Reconstruction, a “new South” had sprung into existence as commerce and industry gradually replaced agriculture as the cornerstone of the economy. Cities like Birmingham and Atlanta grew to become urban centers.
– George C. Wallace, Alabama Governor
“Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”
“Hearing what political figures would say is shocking! They were on national television talking about black people as if they didn’t even matter.” – Jerode Blanks, age 24. New Orleans, Louisianna
Study the Jim Crow Laws
Beginning in the 1890s, every Southern state and countless communities passed laws to keep the races separate. Named after a 19th century “black face” minstrel performer, these “Jim Crow laws” gradually extended to include all aspects of life—movie theaters and restaurants, water fountains and elevators, parks and schools, streetcars and buses, hospitals, and even the Bibles that people swore upon in court. These laws were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that “separate and equal” facilities were constitutional. The Jim Crow laws are hard to believe. But they did exist, and they had a very real and very harsh effect on the daily lives of many.
â€œThe schools for w and the schools f shall be conducte
white children for negro children ed separately” “Seeing these laws was breathtaking. They are so crazy, how did people really think like this?” – Leena Swain, age 42. Springfield, Tennessee
Sit–In at the Lunch Counter
“I felt so nervous walking up there. It felt like I was actually walking into a lunch room. When I sat down and put the headphones on I felt like I was there. As the person was screaming in my ear and I looked at myself, and all I could do is stare. Stare and wait for whatever happen to happen. Fortunately, I was able to get up and walk out, but many of people weren’t so lucky. It was very a moving” – Ashley Jones, age 24. Atlanta, Georgia
In February 1960, four freshmen at North Carolina A & T University in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat down at the “whites–only” lunch counter of the local Woolworth’s department store and ordered a cup of coffee. The staff refused and asked them to leave, but the students remained seated until the restaurant closed. The next day the four returned to try again, only this time they were joined by several others. Each day they were denied service, but each day more came. On the sixth day over a thousand students, including female African American students from Bennett College and three white female students from nearby Greensboro Women’s College. Opposition also grew in numbers and intensity as crowds of white men harassed the protestors, cursing and spitting at them.
That’s Bull, The Police Commissioner
Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor, the longtime Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham, Alabama, oversaw the city’s police and the fire departments. His title and job, which called for the protection of all citizens, contrasted with his racial views and goal of viciously and relentlessly protecting segregation. He once ran through City Hall shouting, “Long as I’m police commissioner in Birmingham, the niggers and white folks ain’t gonna segregate together in this man’s town.”
Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Connor, Police Commissioner, directed the use of fire hoses and attack dogs in 1963 against peaceful protestors, including children, and I quote: “Send the dogs forth!”
“Even the police were after us. I don’t know if I could have handled that. Racism was so blatant And so many people agreed with it!” – Nikitta Gomez, age 16. San Diego, California
Hear the Freedom Riders
Even though federal courts in 1960 had outlawed segregation on interstate travel, many Southern states simply ignored the rulings.Â A band of young men and women, many of them trained veterans of the sitâ€“ins and other nonviolent protests, took it upon themselves to act. They began boarding buses in May 1961, pressuring the federal government to enforce existing laws.Â Uncertain of their fate, many had written their last letters to family and friends in case they were killed. On May 14, near Anniston, Alabama, one of the buses was firebombed. Crowds mobbed another bus in Birmingham, badly beating many Freedom Riders, both black and white.
“You didn’t know what you were going to encounter. You had night riders. You had hoodlums . . . You could be antagonized at any point in your journey.” – Charles Person, Freedom Rider
“Traveling in the segregated South for black people was humiliating. The very fact that there were separate facilities was to say to black people and white people that we as blacks were so subhuman and so inferior that we could not even use public facilities that white people used.” – Diane Nash, Freedom Rides Organizer
“I spoke to a innocent passenger who was sitting thereand said, ‘I’m sorry I got you into this.’ And he said, ‘So am I.’” – Genevieve Houghton, Freedom Rider
“You could hear him say, ‘Throw it in! Throw it in.’ And asking, ‘Where is the gas? Where is the gas?’” – Mae F. Moultrie Howard, Freedom Rider
“Nonviolence and legal action must be twin weapons– either
one being used when it seems to be most applicable, with each bolstering the other” – William Harbour, Freedom Rider
“Hearing their voices was a bit spooky. They are voices of history. Their story is so very unique.” 31
Experience the Speeches
The speeches that day offered a mix of political rally, religious sermon, and optimism. Martin Luther King’s electrifying and inspirational speech remains the best known of the ten official speeches given at the March. His prepared remarks had largely ended when King began the “I have a dream” section of the speech. For the next twelve minutes, he extemporaneously drew from previous sermons and speeches he had given. John Lewis’s fiery speech also was noteworthy. Lewis strongly condemned entrenched segregation and the brutality leveled against the movement, as well as the inadequate response of the Kennedy administration.
“I wonder if they knew then that their words would be immortalized” – Jessica Cotton, age 27. Sandy Springs, Maryland
Four Little Girls
Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair were killed by falling rubble while they were in the basement of the church. Clashes between protestors and police heightened the national attention on the bombing and the aftermath. Despite the fact that the FBI had information on the bombers, no one was convicted for the bombing until 1977, with the last two bombers convicted in 2001 and 2002.
The blood of these innocent girls may cause the world to transform the negative extremes of a dark past into the positive extremes of a bright future.â€? â€“ Martin Luther King Jr. 42
“The innocent blood of these little girls may serve as a redemptive force that will bring new light to this dark city.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Then & Now
From its outset SNCC included both African Americans and some young whites, and operated by a consensus style of democracy. By 1966, the organizationâ€™s leadership had moved to a more militant position, with Black Power advocate Stokely Carmichael replacing John Lewis.
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“So much history, so little time. I want to bring my grand children and teach them about history. My history. OUR history.” – Sonya Carter, age 59. Peoria, Illinois
Dr. Martin Luther King The Thinker/Writer/Activist Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African–American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate, gifted orator, and tireless advocate for human rights, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived most of his life near his birth home on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta. His worldview initially was shaped by his childhood experiences as the son of the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn. During his final year at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, he became an ordained minister in response to “an inner urge calling me to serve humanity.” King increased his understanding of “social gospel” Christianity while studying at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and at Boston University’s School of Theology. His commitment to Mohandas Gandhi’s principles of nonviolent resistance deepened after he became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery and guided the 381–day bus boycott initiated by Rosa Parks in 1955. He returned to Atlanta in 1960 to assist his father at Ebenezer and to be closer to the Auburn Avenue headquarters of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King
The MLK Papers
Kingâ€™s historical significance resulted in part from contingency: he was called to a Montgomery pastorate just a year before the bus boycott started, he survived a nearâ€“fatal stabbing in 1958, and he emerged victorious after a difficult, decisive campaign in Birmingham. Yet, while Kingâ€™s fame may have been fortuitous, he was also a gifted orator and writer with a keen understanding of his place in history.
“I can’t believe he failed a public speaking class. It’s almost comical, arguably one of the best public speakers of all time getting a bad mark in public speaking.” – Jamal Walker, age 12. Richmond, Virginia
“It makes history real, everything you hear about the man is right in front of your eyes in this glass case.” – Elizabeth Kirkland, age 59. Richmond, Virginia
“Seeing his actual handwriting and manuscripts helps me realize how real the civil rights movement was. Up until now, I felt a disconnect through time.” – Jermaine Privott, age 32. Richmond, Virginia
“I wish more people knew about this exhibit. I think it would inspire young black children around the world.” – Sarah Wagner, age 36. Richmond, Virginia
The Death of MLK
King was in a good mood on the evening of April 4, as he and his aides prepared to leave the Lorraine Motel for dinner. He stood on a balcony talking with aides when he was shot and killed. James Earl Ray, an escaped convict, was apprehended and charged after a two–month international manhunt. As the news spread of King’s murder, riots broke out in dozens of American cities, accompanied by widespread arson and looting, mainly in predominantly African American neighborhoods. After a week, forty– three people lay dead and 20,000 had been arrested. Nearly 60,000 members of the National Guard had been called up in the largest military mobilization since the Civil War.
“I’ve never seen this image of him dead. Someone shot him like a dog. In daylight” – Kyle Carpenter, age 56. El Paso, Texas 61
The Price of Freedom
The country and the world reacted with sympathy, anger, and despair to King’s death. As vigils and memorials spontaneously appeared around the world, thousands of people, famous and anonymous, descended on Atlanta for the funeral. Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, a longtime segregationist, said that while he condemned King’s killing, the civil disobedience which King had embraced “builds the foundation for launched disorder and lawlessness.”
“That’s him. The greatest speaker of his time, dead. Like any other person.” – Tony Davis, age 28. Memphis, Tennessee
Meet the Martyrs
Sometimes a gunshot or a bombâ€™s blast rang out. For others, death happened in a dark and silent place, and for many the detailed truth will never be known.
Viola Gregg Liuzzo Civil rights worker Viola Gregg Liuzzo was born Viola Gregg on April 11, 1925, in California, Pennsylvania, part of Washington County. Viola Gregg Liuzzo traveled to Alabama in March 1965 to help the Southern Christian Leadership Conference—led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.—with its efforts to register African–American voters in Selma. Not long after her arrival, she was murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
Samuel Leamon Younge Samuel (“Sammy”) Leamon Younge Jr. was a young civil rights activist who was shot to death on January 3, 1966 when he attempted to use a whites–only restroom at a gas station in Macon County, Alabama. He was 21 years old. Younge was killed 11 years after and 40 miles from where the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott began. At the time of his death he was a military veteran and Tuskegee Institute political science student.
Virgil Lamar Ware Virgil Lamar Ware (born December 6, 1949; died September 15, 1963) was shot in the chest and face while riding on the handlebars of his brotherâ€™s bike on Docenaâ€“Sandusky Road on the afternoon following the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. His killer was teenager Larry Joe Sims.
In this space three outcomes of Americaâ€™s civil rights era are explored. Individuals who died during the civil rights movement are honored here, as a testament to their lives and to the countless others who made painful sacrifices in the pursuit of civil rights. The legal accomplishments that emerged from the struggle surround the space as a testament to the societal changes that have been achieved. Finally, several ongoing and complicated legacies of the movement are explored in the center tables.
Human Rights Everywhere
Human rights standards and principles appear in all major religious texts and the founding documents of many countries â€“ from the Magna Carta and the French Declaration on the Rights of Man to the US Constitution and the more recent constitutions of India, South Africa, and other nations.
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person … Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady
I Am a Man! is a declaration of civil rights, often used as a personal statement and as a declaration of independence against oppression. Show how you identifiy.
Credits Images by: Vmeekins Photography Designed by: VMeekins Designs Printed at: Creative Approach Atlanta Written by: The Center for Civil and Human Rights www.vmeekins.com www.mycreativeapproach.com www.civilandhumanrights.org Knockout Typeface provided by Hoefler & Co. Miller Typeface provided by Font Bureau
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights has created a guide specifically for intergenerational groups! Adults and children alike will enjoy the supplementary activities developed to enhance the content in the galleries at The Center. From learning about key events and people to completing puzzles and activities, you will enjoy these additions to the self-guided experience.