Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.
For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.
A couple hundred feet north of The World of Coca-Cola was the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The museum opened in June 2014, the realization of an idea 13 years in the making, built on land donated by the Coca-Cola Company. The permanent exhibits divide into three categories that flow from one to the other as you progress through its halls — the story of Atlanta’s own Martin Luther King Jr. segues into the history of American civil rights, which in turn broadens in scope on the top floor into an exploration of international human rights as they’re interpreted and/or denied today.
The mission statement from their website: “Our purpose is to create a safe space for visitors to explore the fundamental rights of all human beings so that they leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities.” It’s no mere, perfunctory school field trip destination for Black History Month.
As with quite a few museums, many of its exhibits are synthesis of words and pictures, fascinating in their own right but maybe not great for sharing in internet photo galleries like this one. Its walls tell the stories of Gandhi, Mandela, Yelena Bonner, Vaclav Havel, Estela de Carlotto, and others who lived lives of perseverance toward freedom. We found a wealth of material that seemed unfair to hoard all to ourselves.
(Fun foreshadowing: this wasn’t our last dive into MLK history on this vacation.)
At the end of our tour I came away with a copy of Spike Lee’s documentary 4 Little Girls from their gift shop. A half-block later, heavy rains showed up and tried to drown us as we walked the entire length of Centennial Olympic Park back to the Atlanta Streetcar stop. In the final analysis, it was a blessing and a privilege that getting soaked was the worst thing to happen to us that day.
To be continued!
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[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for other chapters and for our complete road trip history to date. Follow us on Facebook or via email sign-up for new-entry alerts, or over on Twitter if you want to track my TV live-tweeting and other signs of life between entries. Thanks for reading! Also, once more with feeling: SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK SOUTH PARK.]