Three giant (as in building-sized) murals were installed in the King Historic District yesterday in the latest Living Walls effort to turn structures into canvasses. One such “canvas” is the former Henry’s Grill at 345 Auburn Avenue, where a small crowd turned out to watch an acclaimed muralist at work.
Bernice King on her family’s legacy: “What was once something I resented, I now feel honored to carry.”
When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, his youngest child was just five. She had spent little time with her father; he was so often on the road—jailed in Birmingham a few weeks after her birth, addressing 200,000 people on the National Mall when she was five months old, marching from Selma to Montgomery when she was a toddler.
John Lewis came to Atlanta five decades ago as a founding leader of SNCC— the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee—and with an already impressive resume as an activist.
As its name suggests, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which opens to the public on Monday, is about two struggles—the American one that was fought primarily in the South in the latter half of the twentieth century, and the worldwide one that involves oppressed peoples in distant (and not-so-distant) lands. While there’s an obvious thematic linkage between the American Civil Rights Movement and the broader human rights one, the line between them must have been a challenge for the Center’s designers to straddle. One has a built-in narrative, with a beginning and middle (if not yet an ending), and the other requires navigating the vast space beneath the human rights umbrella, whether it’s oppressed women in Africa, child laborers in Pakistan, or tortured activists in Burma.
When it comes to building stuff, Atlanta’s got a great history of public-private partnership. Civic leaders come up with an idea, City Hall irons out the political wrinkles, and then Coke, Delta, the Home Depot, and other hometown companies contribute funding. It’s how Atlanta won the Braves and the Olympics. On the other hand, our track record of taking care of people in the process of building things—large venues in particular—is lousy.
On the morning of August 30, 1961, nine African American students headed for the first day of classes at four all-white Atlanta high schools. They were shadowed by hundreds of reporters, dozens of police officers, and crowds of parents, politicians, and onlookers.