A crowd of hundreds braved soaring temperatures Monday for the grand opening of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta, as several local politicians and dignitaries addressed the crowd to mark the occasion.

After a few selections by the Community Choir, led by choir director Trey Clegg, Center President and CEO Doug Shipman took the stage to welcome those in attendance.

Shipman highlighted the fact that much of the Center’s content is not permanent, saying, “I welcome you here today to the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and I look forward to working together with you tomorrow, to shape the future of our world.”

Center staffers have made a point to shine a light on that fact, which is welcome news to those who feel there should be more or different LGBT content included.

Other speakers included former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Lisa Borders, Mayor Kasim Reed and Congressman John Lewis.

Video montages played on a big screen in-between speeches, telling different stories throughout, including a snippet by openly gay City Councilman Alex Wan, who mentioned marriage equality.

Popular lesbian singer-songwriter Doria Roberts was in attendance, live-tweeting throughout the ceremony.

Other politicians and dignitaries in attendance included Georgia gubernatorial candidate and State Sen. Jason Carter and Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn among others.

But the one who drew the most attention and photo requests, as always, was Congressman Lewis.

“You cannot walk about of this place without a mood being touched, or maybe shedding just a few tears. It tells the story of what happened and how it happened, not just for those who are living but for generations yet unborn,” Congressman Lewis told the crowd.

“In the 21st century, the young people will learn from the stories of American history told here, and they will come to know the capacity of love, the way of peace, the way of nonviolence, the way of forgiveness, the way of reconciliation.”

For a peek inside the Center, check out our story and photo gallery here.  And see below for a photo gallery from Monday’s grand opening.

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders

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