The National Center for Civil and Human Rights broke ground today with a shovel ceremony at the global institution’s future site, Pemberton Place, in Downtown Atlanta. Center CEO Doug Shipman was joined by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and a host of other government officials, civic leaders and celebrities to celebrate the milestone in the Center’s progress. The Center, which recently announced a phased construction and funding plan, will be debt free when it opens in 2014.

“Our vision of opening a cultural institution where people can learn about global civil and human rights struggles continues with this significant milestone,” said Shipman. “With generous support from Invest Atlanta and private funding as well as the expertise of the industry’s most respected visionaries, the Center is poised to impact global dialogue and educate millions.”

In January, Invest Atlanta (formerly called the Atlanta Development Authority) unanimously approved Tax Allocation District funding and groundbreaking plans as part of a phased approach. The Phase I budget of $65 million is fully funded, providing a clear path to financial stability for the Center.

The three-story structure will feature approximately 18,000 square feet of exhibit space and will include a gallery for the Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection (King Papers) as well as civil rights and human rights exhibitions. The building will also offer special events spaces and a state-of-the-art broadcast studio. The Center will also have a positive economic impact on the City of Atlanta, adding approximately 600 jobs, $50 million in revenue and attracting approximately 400,000 visitors annually.

Online donations to the Center can be made at

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.