By Diane Larche’
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) has embarked on a $50 million expansion campaign and $17 million of it will be courtesy of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Mr. Blank, NCCHR President and CEO Jill Savitt and Chief Operating Officer Donald Byrd met with media virtually to share the news of the generous donation from the Blank Foundation which represents close to a third of the campaign’s goal.
The grant will be given over five years with $15 million of it going to build a new 20,000-square-foot wing to the Center . NCCR’s new three-story West Wing will feature premier space on the top floor for the papers of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as add a new gallery to engage families and children.
“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 of 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, will have 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 feature Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Papers which guest will experience at the culmination of their visit.
“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 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.”
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.
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. The Center features a continuously rotating exhibit from the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Collection which includes many of Dr. King’s documents and personal items.
The Trumpet Awards Foundation International Civil Rights Walk of Fame created by Xernona Clayton Brady also has space at the Center.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights that sits between the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium, was opened in 2014. It has a staff of 33 and part time staff of 25. Former Mayor Shirley Franklin serves as Board Chairman; A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress is Vice Chair; Susan R. Bell of Ernst & Young LLP is Treasurer, and retired Coca-Cola Vice President Ingrid Saunders Jones is Board Secretary. The Center provides human rights training for law enforcement and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion experiences for work places. It houses an International human trafficking institute.
The Arthur M. Blank Foundation was formed in 1995 and promotes innovative solutions to transform the lives of youth and their families. Through the foundation and Mr. Blank’s family’s personal giving he has granted more than $800 million to various charitable organizations over the years. In addition to the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, the Blank Businesses include Mercedes Benz Stadium, PGA Tour Superstore, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, West Creek Ranch and Paradise Valley Ranch. Mr. Blank, chairman of the foundation retired in 2001 as co-chairman of The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer he co-founded in 1978.
For more information on the Center visit their website at www.civilandhumanrights.org.