Written by | Ray Cornelius

All eyes were on Atlanta, GA this past week as a number of politicians; social justice supporters and entertainers broke ground for The National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The two-day celebration began Tuesday evening with a dramatic monologue reading called Speak Truth to Power  written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ariel Dorfman.  The hour-long presentation featured excerpts from more than 50 global human rights activists and included actors Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Lynn Whitfield, Sharon Leal and new comer Ali Amin Carter as guest readers.  The event was held at Georgia State’s Rialto Center for the Arts and was attended by Atlanta socialites and celebrities including Judge Glenda Hatchett; who says Atlanta is the perfect city for the Center:

“Atlanta is unique not just to this nation but to this world.  How appropriate that there would be a center to house and be a teaching vehicle for people all over the world.  We have been on the cutting edge for generations.”

The Official Shovel Ceremony took place on Wednesday morning and featured a number of Atlanta dignitaries including Mayor Kasim Reed, former Mayor Shirley Franklin, Ambassador Andrew Young, playwright and author Pearl Cleage, actress Dawn Lewis, Sister of Martin Luther King Jr. Christine King Farris and Elder Bernice King.  Musical entertainment was provided by Les Nubians.

NCCHR CEO, Doug Shipman had this to say about the 18,000 sq. ft. facility that will house The King Papers as well as  a state-of-the-art broadcast studio.

“Our vision of opening a cultural institution where people can learn about global civil and human rights struggles continues with this significant milestone.”

The Center will be located in the heart of Atlanta adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park, The New World of Coca-Cola and The GA Aquarium and is slated to open its doors in 2014.

Here are some highlights from both events courtesy of Tiffany Powell Photography

Speak Truth to Power

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin

NCCHR CEO Doug Shipman and Civil Rights Pioneer C.T. Vivian

Actor Ali Amin Carter and Ray Cornelius

Actress Lynn Whitfield and Ray Cornelius

Annie Casey Foundation’s Mtamanika Youngblood and Author Pearl Cleage

Shovel Ceremony featuring Mayor Kasim Reed and Ambassador Andrew Young

Les Nubians

Shovel Ceremony featuring MLK Family: Elder Bernice King and Christine King Farris