“I’m going to kill you. I’m going to take this fork and jab it in your neck and watch you die!” Those ugly words and a slew of others flowed into my oldest son’s ears. Hateful shouts and loud pounding surrounded him. No, he wasn’t in any danger; he was participating in a re-creation of lunch counter sit-ins as part of an exhibit at the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. Participants wear headphones and place their hands on the counter to evidence non-violence, much like the real participants not so long ago. A timer begins and participants see how long they can sit at the counter, listening to vitriol being spewed at them, without raising a hand. My son lasted ninety seconds. He said that he knew he would be okay, but he couldn’t handle the constant threats – he was shaken for hours afterward. My wife commented after lasting only the same amount of time that she wasn’t prepared for the pure hatred directed at her. Next to the exhibit, a looping video showed the humiliation and beatings the young men, women, and students took during the sit-ins. It was a humbling and disturbing look at American history.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights is a museum that opened in 2014, covering the U.S. Civil Rights movement, as well as all issues of global Human Rights, including women’s right, child labor, immigration, and LGBT issues. The dark areas of humanity can be found within that museum.
I will say this; it is probably the most intense museum I have visited. One should not be scared off from attending, though. It is important. The conversations I have had with my kids since attending the museum have been great. As a person of privilege, it is easy to read about the horrible circumstances and lack of freedom encountered around the globe, as well as here in the U.S., and ignore it as outside of one’s day-to-day reality. The Center makes it real and helps one to understand the struggle. And after leaving the museum, you can’t help but want to take up the good fight for all those mistreated and oppressed.
I took all my kids – ages 11, 9, 4, and a baby. The Center was more for my 11-year-old. He could handle the mature aspects of the Center. My 9-year-old struggled with some of the material. And most of the content was over the head of the 4-year-old.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights is located in downtown Atlanta, next to the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca-Cola at 100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., Atlanta, GA.
For tickets and hours, click here.
Disclaimer: I was given a ticket for my review, but the story is my own.
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