Center for Civil & Human Rights

The vision for a Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta has been prevalent in the minds of many leaders for years. The efforts to bring the Center to our city began in earnest when Evelyn Lowery, Juanita Abernathy and Ambassador Andrew Young approached Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2003-2004. In the summer of 2005, Mayor Franklin and Ambassador Young asked Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta office of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to undertake initial benchmarking research of existing museums and institutes; the findings were presented to a group of community leaders in December 2005.

During the following 12 months, CAP and BCG convened a Working Group comprised of community leaders, business people, scholars and public servants to research, analyze and consider the potential establishment of a successful and authentic Center for Civil & Human Rights in Atlanta. The Working Group report was delivered to Mayor Franklin in December 2006 with the recommendation that a Center should be established to commemorate the groundbreaking contributions of Atlantans and Georgians to the historic struggle for African-American freedom and equality, and also serve as a space for ongoing dialogue, study, and contributions to the resolution of current and future freedom struggles of all people at the local, national and international level.

Many milestones have been reached since the Center confirmed its 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 2008. With Executive Director Doug Shipman at the helm, the Center accepted a gift from the Coca-Cola Company of a 2.5 acre site at Pemberton Place in Downtown Atlanta. Additionally, the Center received significant public support through the Atlanta City Council’s approval of a $40 million allocation from the Westside Tax Allocation District Public Purpose Fund, approximately 30 percent of the Center’s $136 million project budget.  In March of 2009, the architecture firms Freelon Group and HOK were chosen to design the building, and Hood Design and EDAW were selected as the landscape architects.

Over the course of the Center’s first 10 years in operation, it is projected to generate $1.3 billion in economic impact for Atlanta and an estimated $50 million in tax revenue for the city and the state. The Center expects about 800,000 visitors during its first year. It will create 1,150 sustainable jobs on top of 1,550 temporary construction and supporting jobs generated during two years of construction. The planned 100,000-square-foot Center will be LEED-certified and feature exhibition, meeting, performance, dining, and retail space. It will also serve as the exhibition site of the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers, which are owned by Morehouse College.

For more information on the Center, please visit