Tuesday, July 18, 2006

AJC: Will Atlanta be home to civil rights museum?

Payne pushes rights museum | ajc.com: "Billy Payne, the man who brought the 1996 Olympics to Atlanta, challenged the community Monday to build a civil rights museum and promote the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. to the rest of the world.

Calling the idea even bigger than Atlanta's Olympics, Payne delivered his clarion call for Atlanta's next 'enormous' dream at a luncheon speech Monday before the Atlanta Rotary Club and attended by several members of Atlanta's Olympic bid team.

"The cost is but a detail," Payne said. "We will raise whatever amount is required as we once again take the world's stage — this time not for sport, but for life — a beacon of hope illuminating the entire world with the example of Dr. King, with the example of Atlanta."

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, who both were part of Payne's Olympic management team, have been exploring the possibility of building a civil and human rights museum for the past year. The idea has gained momentum since Franklin led a communitywide effort to buy a collection of King's papers from Sotheby's for $32 million.

"I think he's saying the papers are just the beginning of what we can do in bringing Dr. King's legacy to Atlanta," said Franklin, who was not at the talk. Describing Payne as a 50-ish Southern white male, Franklin said: "Billy Payne shatters the stereotype that the South is resistant to Dr. King's legacy."

When asked about Payne's challenge, she said her first task was to finish raising the money for the King papers, an effort she would like to complete before they go on display this fall at the Atlanta History Center."


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