The Travel Section of The New York Times on Sunday January 12 selected downtown Atlanta as one of the 52 places throughout the world to see in 2014, and it had this to say about its ranking:
“A revitalized city center welcomes new museums and streetcars.”
“Atlanta plans several ribbon cuttings in 2014, but the main event is the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, scheduled to open in May next to the Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Aquarium downtown. The 42,000-square-foot, environmentally friendly museum will feature permanent galleries devoted to domestic and international rights struggles and will house the Martin Luther King Jr. papers owned by Morehouse College. By midyear, visitors will be able to take the new Atlanta streetcar on a 2.7 mil loop that will like the park to the MLK Jr. National Historic Site and other stops. Another parkside attraction is the 94,000-square-foot College Football Hall of Fame, opening in time for the kickoff of the NCAA season.”
Atlanta’s Portraits of Civil and Human Rights Pioneers
In my previous post, I mentioned that I had been chosen to paint the portraits of seven amazing civil and human rights pioneers, which will become part of the permanent collection at the Human Rights Gallery, to be located at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. In addition to Mandela, Gandhi and King, on other man and three women will be honored for their work. As you will see from the photo of my portraits below, they are works in progress.
Elena Bonner helped political prisoners and their families as early as the 1940s and later became an activist in promoting the human rights movement in the Soviet Union. She received many international human rights awards.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an activist for women’s rights in the workplace, as well as for the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, as well as the rights of World War II refugees.
Estela Barnes de Carlotta was an activist in The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, the purpose of which was to secure the release of children kidnapped or “disappeared:” by military forces during the military dictatorship in Argentina. An estimated 500 children were either kidnapped or seized at birth from women in detention during the Dirty War. “The Grandmothers” secured the establishment of the National Genetic Data Bank for Relatives of Disappeared Children in 1987 and other organizations. She was awarded a U.N. Prize in the field of Human Rights.
Vaclav Havel was a playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and political leader. He served as the 9th and last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic. Beginning in 1997, according to Wikipedia, Havel hosted Forum 2000, an annual conference to “identify the key issues facing civilization and to explore ways to prevent the escalation of conflicts that have religion, culture or ethnicity as their primary components”. At the time of his death, he was Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation, based in New York.
The seven amazing individuals I will be “working with” have opened my eyes to so much and made me appreciate their courage. Because I have read many of their speeches, seen countless photographs, and watched significant video coverage of their work, I feel as though they are still alive.
As I roll steadfastly into 2014 charged with the task of bringing these heroes to life with paint on canvas, it is my sincere hope that I will fully and beautifully capture their light and their spirit. My hopes and wishes for everyone else in my world and beyond, as they march into 2014, is that they can all find the spark and the courage to embark on their own missions − to accomplish, to achieve, to overcome, to effect change. Even if it is small and personal – such as “giving back” to those in need, or finding peace within, or being a better friend, neighbor or co-worker – as Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”