Billy Payne, the man who dreamed big and delivered in bringing the Olympics to Atlanta, says we can do something "even bigger." In a speech yesterday, he advocated building our own civil rights museum with an emphasis on the teachings of Dr. King. I'm surprised that we haven't done it before now.
Atlanta, the symbol of the "new south," is home to so many civil rights events and legendary figures. Many of those figures are still alive. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have such a museum created here in the south during their lifetime?
Here's what Payne had to say in the AJC about the prospect:
"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 must aspire to be a positive example — serving as a bright light of diversity, respect and tolerance in a world otherwise divided by seemingly insurmountable differences," Payne said. He then quoted from Dr. King, saying his words were particularly relevant today: "We have guided missiles and misguided men."
Mayor Shirly Franklin, who recently led a successful city effort to obtain a collection of Dr. King's papers, said the city has been looking at this idea for about a year. She went on to say, "I think he's (Payne) 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."
Isn't that a worthy reason as well? Atlanta setting an example of an entire city brought together for the cause of promoting Dr. King's dream and honoring our civil rights heroes? You bet it is! It's another step in the right direction for all of us.
The rest of the AJC article by Maria Saporta can be found at: