elevateAfrican Diaspora Tourism will present the Atlanta Matriarchs of the Civil Rights Movement art and photo exhibit as a part of the “Elevate” Festival in October 15-23, 2015 in Central Downtown Atlanta. The brainchild of Kitty J. Pope, publisher of AfricanDiasporaTourism.com, the Atlanta Matriarchs exhibit is a cultural heritage project that will feature 25 woman who were key figures during the Civil Rights Movement.  “We are honoring these women because they are heroes for their contributions in helping to bring about Civil Rights. We hear so much about the men who were instrumental in Civil Rights, but not so much about the women.”  


This Atlanta Matriarchs exhibit is intended to not only attract the interest and attention of the families and friends of the ladies featured, but also, educators, scholars, government and political officials, business and corporate executives, professionals as well as cultural heritage enthusiasts and lay people.  “In other words, the “Atlanta Women of the Civil Rights Movement” has something for everyone,” says Pope. One important thing that the team wants is to also capture the interest of the Millennial Generation in such a way as to inspire interest not only in this project, but Atlanta Civil Rights history in general. “Many times young people are not engaged in their history enough to want to explore more because of boredom and/or a feeling of alienation,” says Pope. “We plan to present the exhibit in a creative and awe-inspiring way to reel in the Millennials.”                

Lead artists for the Atlanta Matriarchs of the Civil Rights Movement exhibit are C. Flux Singleton and Kevin Harp, who in addition to being noted visual artists are also graphic designers and muralists.   The team presenting this includes historian/ photographer Susan Ross, Atlanta’s photo griot. Ross will serve as consultant and exhibit curator and she will also do a collage of photos of some of the women that she has captured down through the years.  Kristina Kellie, a photographer who specializes in taking pictures of people in scenic settings, will do photo shoots of some of the local Atlanta Matriarchs for the “Living Legends” part of the exhibit.  Pope is the creative director and producer of the exhibit.

susan                                                        flux and kevin      
krisELEVATE 2015 will be a celebration of Atlanta, where she’s been, where she is now and where she is going!  Participating cultural art projects will celebrate the city of Atlanta and its unique identity, and center on Atlanta as a type of muse with the goal of generating a heightened sense of pride in the city of Atlanta and what it offers to the nation and the world. Operating under the theme F(orever) I L(ove) A(tl) – F.I.L.A., Elevate 2015 will be a 7-day celebration of what makes Atlanta unique and special through visual art, performances and events that showcase Atlanta – past, present and future. Elevate 2015 programs and commissions are expected to impact the Atlanta economy, increase the quality of life for its citizens, educate the public and gain global attention for the city as a creative and culturally engaging contemporary city.

fahamuThe overseeing curator for this year’s Elevate is Fahamu Pecou, a visual artist and scholar whose works combine observations on hip-hop, fine art and popular culture.  
Currently a Ph.D. student in Emory University's Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA), Pecou maintains an active exhibition schedule as well as public lectures and speaking engagements at colleges and museums nationwide. His work is featured in noted private and public national and international collections including; Smithsonian National Museum of African American Art and Culture, Societe Generale (Paris), Nasher Museum at Duke University, The High Museum of Art, Paul R. Jones Collection, Clark Atlanta University Art Collection and Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia.


Launched in 2011, “Elevate” officially became an annual downtown arts program of the Office of Cultural Affairs in 2012. Now in the fifth year, the physical project area has been extended from coverage of three blocks to all of central downtown Atlanta. Since its launch, the Elevate program in Atlanta Georgia has featured public art projects of performing and visual art, presented by artists and organizations. More than 300 local, national and international artists have exhibited within Downtown Atlanta’s public spaces through generous grants from The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and other sponsors of Elevate artworks. With mediums ranging from contemporary visual art to street performances, Elevate continually inspire to present projects that heighten the visual experience and support community involvement in Downtown Atlanta.  

naomibabsThe vision of the team for Atlanta Matriarchs of the Civil Rights Project includes elevating these ladies to the status they deserve to educate the public about them. “We trust that this project will create a buzz long after Elevate Atlanta 2015 is over,” says Pope. “Our long-term goal includes taking the exhibit to different venues in Metro- Atlanta and doing a magnificent mural of all the ladies on a strategic building in the city. We already have the support of Dr. Babs Onabanjo, co-founder and CEO of the AD King Foundation who immediately came on board. With Ms. Naomi King, co-founder of AD King Foundation as one of the Atlanta Matriarchs Living Legends, Dr. Babs will serves as board chair of the mural project.” The final phase of the project is the magnificent wall mural of the ladies that will be an important heritage tourism site for the South as well as the city of Atlanta. 

                                                                             List of

                             Atlanta’s Matriarch of Civil Rights Photo Exhibit  (ABC order)

1) Ms. Billye Aaron – The wife of Baseball legend Hank Aaron, Ms. Aaron was a very active participant in the struggle for Civil Rights even before she met her famous husband. She worked diligently with the Southern Leadership Christian Conference.

2) Ms. Juanita Abernathy – Ms. Abernathy stood strong through the bombing of her home with her husband Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy who was one of Dr. MLK’s closest confidant. She was instrumental in helping to organize the Freedom Riders. She continued dedicating her life’s efforts to the struggle through civic and religious organizations.

3) Ms. Alethea Williams Boone – Married to the Civil rights activist preacher Rev. Joseph Boone, Ms. Boone was involved in the struggle for Civil Rights right along with him. She set up the Joseph E. Boone Memorial Foundation to honor his legacy and to support human causes.

4) Ms. Xernona Clayton - A civil rights leader who worked for the National Urban League and Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the Civil Rights Movement, Ms. Clayton later had a career in broadcast. She also founded the Trumpet awards and Civil Rights Walk of Fame to honor the achievements of African Americans and civil rights advocates.

5) Ms. Dorothy Cotton – Ms. Cotton was a leader of the Civil Rights Movement and a member of the inner-circle of one of its main organizations, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where she served as Educational Director. She was arguably the highest ranked female member of the organization.

6) Ms. Charlene Hunter-Gault - The first African-American woman to enroll at the University of Georgia, and the one of the first of two African-American students to integrate the school in 1961, Hunter-Gault was also a Civil Rights activist who became the first African American to give the University of Georgia's commencement address. She has written several books about her experience with integration and civil rights.

7) Ms. Grace Towns Hamilton – The first African-American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly, she was also as advisor to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. During the Civil Rights Era, she worked tirelessly to expand political representation for blacks in city, county and state governments.

8) Ms. Rosemarie Freeney Harding – A Civil Rights activist along with her husband Dr. Vincent Harding, the couple moved to Atlanta to participate in the Southern Freedom Movement as representatives of the Mennonite Church. They co-founded Mennonite House, an interracial voluntary service center and Civil Rights Movement gathering place in Atlanta where they counseled participants of the movement.

9) Ms. Azira Hill – Often referred to as Atlanta’s Angel for her works as a civil rights activist and nurse, Ms. Hill was involved in many organizations related to civil rights. She is the recipient of many awards and honors for her services.

10) Ms. Louise Hollowell- Active in the Civil Rights movement and the struggle for justice and freedom for humanity, she supported and traveled with her husband Donald Hollowell, known as Georgia's foremost Civil Rights attorney during the 1950's and 1960's. She authored The Sacred Call: A Tribute to Donald L. Hollowell, Civil Rights Champion that chronicles many of the cases in which he was involved, including the release of Dr. Martin Luther King from jail.

11) Dr. Christine King Farris - The eldest and only living sibling of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ms. King stood in solidarity with the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. The author of several books and a public speaker, she was a professoer at Spelman College and was active in many civic and human rights organizations.

12) Ms. Coretta King – The wife of the late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ms. King was a foundation for him during the movement and later created The King Center to memorialize her husband and his legacy of equal rights and justice for all.

13) Ms. Naomi King – The wife of the late Rev. AD King, the youngest brother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ms. King stood firm in the Civil Rights movement even after her home and husband’s church was bombed.

14) Ms. Lillian Lewis – The belated wife of Congressman John Lewis, she stayed mostly out of the public eye, but supported and advised her husband in issues related to Civil Rights for more than four decades. She was also his closest advisor in his political career and his historic election to Congress.

15) Ms. Evelyn Lowery- A civil rights activist and leader and the belated wife of Rev. Joseph Lowery, who marched in the historic Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. She is the founder of SCLC/Women’s Organizational Movement for Equality Now, Inc. (W.O.M.E.N.), the sister organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

16) Ms. Eliza Paschall- A white activist who served on Atlanta Council on Human Relations, Ms. Paschall was also executive director of the Community Relations Commission where she investigated racial discrimination and mediated human relations conflict. She authored It Must Have Rained (1974), a book about Civil Rights in Atlanta.

17) Ms. Cleophas Orange - An activist during the Civil Rights Movement, Ms. Orange was at the forefront with her husband Rev. James Orange who was well known as a Civil Rights Icon.

18) Dr. Roslyn Pope – – A Civil Rights activist while a student at Spelman College, Pope was an active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), who wrote  An Appeal for Human Rights that was signed by other student leaders of the institutions of the Atlanta University Center. 

19) Ms. Terrie Randolph – Serving as secretary to the President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Ms. Randolph was one of several white women who were active in the quest for Civil Rights for all.

20) Ms. Rubie Doris Smith Robinson - A Freedom Rider, she was beaten in Montgomery, Ala., and arrested in Jackson, Miss., serving 45 days in prison under the "jail, no bail" policy she herself had instituted. She was the first woman elected executive secretary of SNCC. In her short 25 years on this planet, Robinson had a big impact on the civil rights movement.

21) Dr. Georgianne Thomas- Active in the Civil Rights Movement when she was a student at Spelman College, Dr. Thomas is the creator and producer of the compelling documentary Foot Soldiers: Class of 1964. The documentary is about Spelman students including Dr. Thomas who helped to bring about change in Atlanta regarding Civil Rights.

22) Ms. Octavia Vivian - One of the first African-American Deputy Voter Registrars in DeKalb County Georgia, Ms. Vivian worked alongside her noted husband CT Vivian for Civil Rights. Years later she took the lead in collecting and organizing documents that detailed the history of S.C.L.C. and the American Civil Rights Movement.

23) Ms. Juanita Terry Williams - A former Georgia legislator who was one of the first black women to run for public office in the state, she was the wife of civil rights leader Hosea Williams and worked with him in the Civil Rights Movement.

24) Dr. Mary Ann Smith Wilson – A civil rights activist, who was arrested at the age of 18 in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat on the bus system. She is one of several women who were arrested for this offense prior to Rosa Parks that year. She was among the four women who took their case to the United States Supreme Court.

25) Ms. Jean Childs Young - An educator and activist who was the wife of former US Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, until her death in 1994. Ms. Young developed curriculum for the Citzenship Schools of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She actively participated in voter registrations and various important marches. She developed the "Celebrate Difference" Program at the King Center to educate young people on the Civil Rights Movement and was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the U.S. Chairperson of the International Year of the Child--bringing the rights of children into the global movement for civil and human rights.


Above photos 1) Kitty Pope, 2) Susan Ross 3) C Flux Singleton & Kevin Harp 4) Krissie Kellie 5) Fahamu Pecou 6) Ms. Naomi King and Dr. Babs Onabanjo



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