As Memphians head to the National Civil Rights Museum for grand reopening activities on Friday and Saturday, they can be assured that the renovation represents true diversity, with a conscious effort having been to reflect a high-degree of minority participation in the $28 million project.
That's the sentiment of museum officials and from a number of those selected to participate in the facelift of the museum, which opened in 1991.
To begin with, several minorities participated in the 24-member National Scholar Review Committee. The committee was responsible for the interpretive plan development and review of the exhibits content.
Primary advisory scholars included Dr. Stephanie Shaw, Dr. Hassan Kwame Jefferies, Dr. Earnestine Jenkins and Daniel Kiel, JD.
Museum officials said a national call for presentations was extended to exhibit designers and contractors a year prior to being selected.
Remodeling commenced in its first phase during the spring of 2011 and continued in increments until its most recent completion. Howard + Revis, based in Washington, D.C., was the primary design contractor.
Fifty percent of minority participants contributed to the project in 2011 and forty-five percent in 2012, dividing the workload between 23 local companies. According to documents provided, the total valued more than $4 million.
"Minority contractors were encouraged to bid the highest percentage. Twenty percent seemed to be the market average for bidding so we wanted them to strive for at least 35 percent, and they exceeded that," said Tracy Lauritzen Wright, director of Administration and Special Projects.
Locally owned and operated Self + Tucker Architects led the multimillion dollar architectural upgrades by designing the building, expanding of the lobby, designing the new event room and creating space for the exhibits. Twenty-five workers and six registered architects were on hand for the job. Juan Self and Jimmie Tucker are the founding principles of STA.
"I would rate the entire experience an A+. I'm more than satisfied and elated with the outcome of this project," said Juan Self. The award-winning, mid-sized company had prior experience working with the museum.
The primary contractor, Flinto, was a family-owned Native-American firm when it landed the contract. The Alberici Corporation acquired Flinto in 2013.
Jackson Person and Associates, another local, minority-owned business founded by John Jackson III and the late Walter Person Jr., opened their landscape architecture and urban planning firm more than 20 years ago. JPA was selected through the design process to work on the project.
Visitors can expect to see:
* A new lobby housing the 7,000-pound bronze signature statue, Movement to Overcome;
*Close to 20 new exhibits, including references to the Montgomery Bus Boycott; Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education desegregation ruling; the integration of Little Rock Central High School; The March on Washington; and the March from Selma;
*And a conference room that could be used for private community events.
"I think everyone working on the project felt great to be tremendously involved. It was a labor of love because there are so many human stories...black and white," said Tracy Revis, founding principal of Howard + Revis Design Services.
"There are so many lessons to be learned from this."
The National Civil Rights Museum will tie the historic passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to its grand reopening via a forum of national leaders, historians, scholars and civil rights activists on Friday, April 4th from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Following the forum, there will be a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was shot to death on the balcony of the Lorraine on April 4th, 1968.
Saturday, April 5th is Community Day, which kicks off with the Freedom Forward Parade at 9:30 a.m. Twenty-plus organizations and schools will march from the Memphis Cook Convention Center along Second Street to the National Civil Rights Museum.
Following the parade is Breaking of the Chains, the museum's official opening ceremony. It begins at 11 a.m., with entertainment on the Freedom Forward Main Stage from noon until 7 p.m.
The events are free to the public.
Admission to the museum will be discounted from $15 to $5 for the weekend.