The National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Downtown  Atlanta.

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation announced Feb. 4 that it will give a five-year, $17 million grant to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

In a press release about the gift, The Center said $15 million will be used to build a 20,000 square foot, three-story west wing  at the Downtown campus. An additional $2 million will be dedicated to new programming that “seeks to connect our racial history to the present, bring diverse groups together, and make progress through conversation and leadership.”

The new west wing expansion will include a 2,700 square-foot gallery on the lobby level, a 2,500 square-foot gallery to showcase the Without Sanctuary Collection of postcards of lynching and anti-lynching artifacts, gallery space for temporary and visiting exhibitions, and a 900 square-foot café. The top floor will feature the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers.

“The most effective way to make progress together as a community is to shine a light on the issues that exist and to then do something about them so that everyone can feel a sense of understanding and support,” Blank said in a statement. “We believe in the power of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to educate, include and transform the whole of this community and this country so that together, we can create tangible, positive change.”

With this donation, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has provided more than $20 million to The Center, including an initial $1.5 million grant for construction in 2013. Blank has also pledged his proceeds from his recently published book Good Company to The Center in perpetuity.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.