On a warm, clear Atlanta spring morning last Thursday, the sun shone brightly on the inaugural installation of the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame footprints at its new home at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. A sold-out breakfast was hosted before the ribbon cutting and unveiling of the new footprints at the Center.
Originally housed on the National Park Service Martin Luther King Historic site on Auburn Avenue, the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame was created in September 2004 by Xernona Clayton and an organizing committee. The purpose of the Walk of Fame was to establish a permanent tribute to the brave warriors of justice who sacrificed and struggled to make equality a reality for all.
The Walk of Fame has an ongoing mission is to create a lasting memorial to those whose contributions were testaments to the fact that human progress is not automatic nor inevitable, as well as to enhance the historical value of the area, enrich cultural heritage and augment tourist attractions.
According to Clayton, the original home at the National Park Services MLK Jr. site on Auburn Avenue will remain and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights—near the Centennial Olympic Park, World of Coca Cola and College Football Fame—will be the new home for all future inductees and those duplicated from the original location.
“I’m excited that now the three million visitors will view the footprints of people whose lives have made a difference in the world,” Clayton said.
Clayton—president of the Trumpet Awards Foundation—and Diane H. Pollard—a Trumpet Awards Foundation board member—welcomed a number of guests to the ceremony, including: former Atlanta Mayor Sam Massell and his wife Sandra; Ambassador Andrew Young; Michael Russell standing in the footprints of his late father Herman J. Russell; Valerie Jackson standing in for her late husband Mayor Maynard Jackson.
Past inductees Michael McMillan, president & CEO, of Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis; the Bishop Neil Ellis and his wife Patrice Ellis of Nassau, Bahamas; and former Atlanta first lady Sharon Campbell also attended the dignitary-studded breakfast and ceremony.
This year’s honorees included Jan Prisby Bryson, president, Benchmark Management LLC; Thomas W. Dortch Jr., chairman of the 100 Black Men of America Inc; Monica Kaufman Pearson, longtime WSB-TV 2 News anchor and current radio/TV host; and Sir Franklyn R. Wilson, Bahamian Businessman and Chairman of Sunshine Holdings Limited.
All stood in their footprints and were surrounded by family and friends.
Previous Honorees whose footprints were duplicated included Mayor Ivan Allen, Arthur M. Blank, President Bill Clinton, Mayor Shirley Franklin, Mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Congressman Hank Johnson, President Lyndon B. Johnson, Congressman John R. Lewis, Mayor Sam Massell, Michael McMillan, Herman J. Russell, Ted Turner Rev. C. T. Vivian, Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock and Ambassador Andrew Young.