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Timeless Lessons at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights

July 20, 2023 By CityPASS

In the city of Atlanta, Georgia, located on historic Pemberton Place next to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola, stands a beautiful and vital building that is home to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR).

Initially envisaged by civil rights heroes Evelyn Lowery and Andrew Young (who was also a former United Nations Ambassador), the center was inaugurated by Atlanta's former Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2014.

The NCCHR is one of only a few places around the globe with a mission to inform, educate, and raise awareness about both the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s and its connections with the current (and ongoing) struggles to safeguard human rights globally.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights occupies a massive 42,000-square-foot area and features both permanent and temporary exhibitions. These exhibits' themes revolve around civil rights struggles and the global human rights movement and aim to inspire visitors of all ages to take action to make the world a better place for everyone.

Thanks to its strategic location in Atlanta, the center also offers unique insights into some of the most inspiring civil and human rights stories, with Atlanta-native Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and achievements taking center stage.

The Civil Rights Museum's Most Popular Exhibits

The NCCHR is home to two permanent and highly interactive exhibits: the Rolls Down Like Water: U.S. Civil Rights Movement exhibit and the Spark of Conviction: Global Human Rights Movement exhibit. It also features temporary exhibitions and collections. Both the temporary and permanent exhibits will challenge, move, and stimulate any visitor.

U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Visitors to the Rolls Down Like Water: U.S. Civil Rights Movement exhibit move through five different sections.

  1. To start, visitors are introduced to daily life as a person of color in the Jim Crow laws era through interactive displays and panels.
  2. In the second section, visitors can explore the origin and story of the Freedom Riders and look at a reconstruction of the famous Greyhound bus the Riders traveled on. There is also a short film on the subject in this section of the exhibit.
  3. In the third section, visitors are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere of a peaceful protest: a lunch counter sit-in. This is one of the exhibition's most powerful and moving parts.
  4. The fourth section is another interactive and immersive one, with a beautiful gallery featuring many multimedia pieces spotlighting the famous 1963 March on Washington.
  5. Lastly, the final section explores the violence that erupted in the aftermath of the March and culminated in the bombing of the 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as the assassinations of many civil rights leaders and advocates, including Dr. King.

Global Human Rights Movement

It's also well worth visiting the NCCHR's other permanent exhibit, Spark of Conviction: Global Human Rights Movement, which provides an overview of human rights issues and campaigns around the world.

Curated by Jill Savitt, CEO and President of the NCCHR, this exhibit features a gallery of interactive displays that introduces visitors to critical human rights principles, issues, and advocates. This exhibit also gives NCCHR visitors opportunities to consider what unites us as human beings while recognizing how intolerance and divisions can impact all our lives.

Other NCCHR Exhibits and Programming

In addition to temporary exhibits that highlight various facets of the struggle for civil and human rights, the NCCHR also offers a variety of in-person and virtual programs for young professionals, families with children, students, and adults.

The NCCHR wants its visitors to leave feeling "empowered to join the conversation in your own community by engaging with our initiatives and programs."

How To Prepare for a Day at the NCCHR

Because the museum currently doesn't offer any official guided tours, visiting the center is an experience you will need to organize on your own. Be sure to set aside at least 90 minutes to explore the center and engage with its thought-provoking exhibitions.

While strict COVID-19 restrictions are no longer in place, the center continues to follow strong cleaning and sanitation practices, and visitors are always encouraged to wear masks and practice good hygiene when visiting public and crowded places.

If you will have any special needs during your visit, the center's website offers detailed information about its accessibility and policies.

When's the Best Time To Visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights?

The NCCHR is open Tuesday through Sunday, with the last entry at 4 pm. But it is always best to check the center's website for the most up-to-date visitor information.

You can also visit the NCCHR website for helpful information about directions, public transportation, and parking.

As with most attractions in Atlanta, we recommend you visit earlier in the week when big crowds are less likely. If you can only visit during peak times — such as in the summer, on the weekend, or during the holidays — be prepared for the center to be more crowded.

Get Tickets to Downtown Atlanta's Best Experiences With a CityPASS® Bundle

Visiting Atlanta should definitely be on your travel bucket list, especially if you are interested in exploring the hugely important topic of civil and human rights. Here, in the birthplace of Dr. King, you can visit the moving and awe-inspiring National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

As you plan your trip to Atlanta, remember that you can get exceptionally discounted prices on many of Atlanta's top things to do with an Atlanta CityPASS® ticket. Visit our website and book your Atlanta visit today.

Lodging in Atlanta

To get the most out of your stay in Atlanta, we recommend finding lodging near Atlanta's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Header Image ©Studio Fitz/National Center for Civil and Human Rights

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