Footprints of Civil Rights History

Article excerpt

Who can walk in the footsteps of civil rights heroes? Now anyone can at the new International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta.

The footprints of some of the world's most renowned freedom fighters were embedded in cement at a memorial located at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site on Auburn Avenue.

More than 300 people attended the Sept. 14 unveiling ceremony, where business, civic and political leaders hailed the walk of fame as a boon for local tourism and a historical and cultural showpiece. Organizers hope the walk of fame will inspire visitors who stand on the footprints to carry on the work of the honorees.

While a high school band played the civil rights anthem "We Shall Overcome," the footprints of freedom fighters, etched in black granite blocks, were unveiled from under a long black drape.

The first phase of the walk honors 17 civil rights leaders who dedicated their lives fighting for equality and justice. Some of the initial inductees included Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, former National Council of Negro Women president Dorothy I. Height, and presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter.

The walk of fame was organized by Xernona Clayton, a longtime civil rights activist and executive producer/founder of the Trumpet Awards, which annually recognize outstanding African American achievement. …