Today, I had the privilege of visiting the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights, located in downtown Atlanta. I strongly encourage everyone in the area to make a visit. The first and second floors of the beautiful building are dedicated to the history and remembrance of the United States Civil Rights movement. These exhibits did a wonderful job of capturing history, as well as inspiring in the visitors an appreciation for the spirit of that movement- peaceful, uncompromising demonstrations for the sake of equality. One thing that especially moved me about these exhibits were the way that Atlanta, my city, was such a key location. Additionally, they displayed some of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal belongings- right down to his deodorant and a handwritten note he carried on his person. This made him seem like less of a symbol, which he tends to be seen as, and more of an incredible human leader with a vision, which he was.
As cool as the first two floors are, however, the star of the show for me was the third floor’s global human rights exhibit. It touched on everything historically from the Holocaust to Rwanda to Srebrinica. However, it was not a primarily history-based exhibit. What I love is that it shines a light on modern day human rights abuses. It not only makes people aware- but encourages them to action. They addressed modern day issues such as women’s rights, human trafficking, and LGBTQ discrimination from an international perspective. For example, it demonstrated how many soccer balls are produced with child labor, and then encouraged visitors to contact soccer ball companies to ask them to check their supply chains more closely. (As a side note, for fairly produced soccer balls, check out Senda Athletics.) The way that this museum makes a connection between past movements and modern day opportunities to stand with people whose rights are being violated is really beautiful.
For these reasons and many more, this week’s suggestion of how to change the world is to acknowledge and be inspired by the people that have gone before you. Defending rights of oppressed people is always going to be an uphill battle. However, progress has occurred and will continue to occur as long as people are willing to fight for it.