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Students Learn Civil Rights History Via “i Am Here” Interviews

The civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr,

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is proud to partner with the New World Foundation to launch the 2013 “I Am Here” Exchange. The program, dedicated to preserving the civil rights history illuminated in the 1963 March on Washington, will present the stories of those involved in the March through the creation of an archive of oral history interviews.

As a part of this initiative, 22 college students from the Atlanta area were selected to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington on August 24th. Students will pair up to collect as many as 200 interviews with civil rights leaders and activists to capture the experiences of each at the time of the March where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Interviews will also be conducted in Atlanta and Washington before and during events on the National Mall surrounding the 50th anniversary.The students will interview people who were at the original March about why they marched and how the civil rights movement has affected their lives.

“As we recognize the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, we are proud to provide our future generation of young leaders with the opportunity to learn about the motivations and experiences of our past leaders,” said Doug Shipman, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. “Our hope is that through this experience, we can galvanize each student to stand up for the continued fight for justice and universal human rights.

Stan Salett, who first conceived this project and was a member of the original March on Washington’s local organizing committee, said: “It is important to remember the civil rights movement not as the achievement of extraordinary individuals, but as the outcome of ordinary people achieving extraordinary results.  It is their stories that we need to capture.”

The interviews will also highlight the stories of political and civil rights leaders including: Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, who spoke at the original March, civil rights leader the Reverend Joseph Lowery, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, and Dr. Doris Dirby, a founding member of the New York branch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who is now at Georgia State University, and many others. The interviews will be archived by the National Center for Civil and Human Rights as part of an ongoing effort to preserve and share the stories of individuals involved in past and present movements.

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is currently under construction at Pemberton Place in downtown Atlanta, adjacent to the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium. The Center is expected to attract 400,000 visitors annually of all ages to experience the interactive exhibits and educational events and programming. It opens May, 2014.