The Coca-Cola Co. announced Monday it would donate $10 million worth of prime downtown land to the city for a planned civil rights museum in the home town of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Coca-Cola chairman and CEO Neville Isdell said his company is donating 2 1/2 acres for the museum near the Georgia Aquarium and the new World of Coca-Cola, now under construction. Coke previously donated nine acres (3.6 hectares) for the aquarium.
“There is no more appropriate home for a civil rights museum than the cradle of America’s civil rights movement,” Isdell said. “This city is the principal guardian of Dr. King’s dream. It our duty as citizens of Atlanta not just to preserve his dream but to build upon it.”
Isdell said the idea for the museum came from Mayor Shirley Franklin, who said in January that a civil rights museum belongs in Atlanta.
A spokeswoman for Franklin said Monday she had no details on the museum or who would develop it.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis said Atlanta is the “capital of the modern day civil rights movement” and should have a civil rights museum, just like other cities, such as Birmingham, and Montgomery in Alabama and Memphis, Tenn.
No timetable has been set on when construction of a new museum would begin.
The new World of Coca Cola, a company-run museum dedicated to the history and global impact of the soft drink maker, is expected to open May 24.
King, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his leadership of the civil rights movement, was born in Atlanta and graduated from Atlanta’s Morehouse College and later was the co-pastor with his father of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
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