Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018
After my CNN tour, I went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
They had a powerful exhibit called, “The Lunch Counter.” You sit at the lunch counter and put on headphones. You listen to men yelling and screaming at you; threatening to kill you. The counter and your chair both shake as if the men are shaking you from behind, like it happened in the 1960s. It was very powerful and emotional.
There was also an exhibit on Martin Luther King, Jr., and his work. It started with his work as a Reverend, and moved into his Civil Rights work, and ultimately his assassination and the effect it had on the country. It was very detailed, and the exhibit discussed the major events that occurred during the Civil Rights movement. The Emmett Till murder, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, and more were covered to give visitors a holistic overview of the events of the time.
It was very good, but I didn’t feel it was quite balanced. It was more the hero worship variety, and I like my history with the good and the bad parts of people. The exhibit didn’t touch on Martin Luther King Jr.’s flaws; the fact that he had multiple affairs, or the fact that toward the end of his life, he was aligning himself more with groups that advocated for violent protest as a means to achieve Civil Rights Reform. Not all of his supporters agreed with this shift.
The Center also had an exhibit on the various abusers of human rights throughout history; political leaders who committed crimes against their own or conquered peoples. Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and Augusto Pinochet were all included in the exhibit.
Downstairs there was a special exhibit of the Reverend King’s papers and writings. It was interesting to see history up close and in MLK Jr.’s own hand-written and typed pages.
There are lots of good exhibits at the Center. They did take some liberties though… They had an exhibit on role models in Civil Rights history that included all of Eleanor Roosevelt’s great work for disadvantaged groups, but they didn’t mention her anti-semitism before and during World War II. As I mentioned before, they also didn’t include anything about King’s flaws. We are all flawed beings, and I think it is better to shed the light on it, so people get the whole story. Even so, it was certainly worth the visit!
Costs: Admission was $19.99, or included with the Atlanta City Pass.