08/05/2005

Dedication Set for Wall of Tolerance, Visitors Center

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- With just under three months to go, plans for the dedication of the new Civil Rights Memorial Center and Wall of Tolerance are in full swing.

Visitors from around the country are expected in Montgomery for the dedication ceremonies, scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, October 23. Joining the Center for the historic occasion will be Julian Bond, Maya Lin and many family members of the Civil Rights Memorial martyrs.

"We're looking forward to seeing many of our supporters at this exciting event," said Center co-founder and chief trial counsel Morris Dees. "They have given us invaluable moral and financial support over the years, and together we have accomplished much to make our nation a better place."

Bond, the Center's first president and a member of its board of directors, will be the master of ceremonies for the dedication.

To date, nearly 1,000 people have returned RSVPs indicating they will be at the dedication. With that number likely to grow, the Center is recommending that those interested in attending make hotel reservations soon. A packet of information, including names and phone numbers of area hotels, will be sent to those who tell the Center they will attend.

In addition to the Civil Rights Memorial Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center will be open to supporters on Friday and Saturday of the dedication weekend.

While in Montgomery, visitors are encouraged to see the city's many historic sites associated with both the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War.

The Center's opening coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and will expand the experience of the Civil Rights Memorial. The new Center will provide visitors with in-depth information about the people and events the memorial honors. It contains a 56-seat auditorium and offers a 20-minute film, a display of contemporary social justice movements, and an educational classroom.

A visitor's experience will close at the Wall of Tolerance, which includes the names of those who have made a commitment to work in their daily lives for justice, equality and human rights — the ideals for which the civil rights martyrs died.

The names are digitally projected onto a curved 20-by-40-foot surface and "rain" down like the water that sheets over the Civil Rights Memorial's black granite wall.

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped," said Robert Kennedy in 1965. "Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope."

The purpose of the Civil Rights Memorial Center and the Wall of Tolerance is to inspire others to take a public stand for justice.