Falcons' Arthur Blank donates $17 million to Atlanta civil rights museum

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NFL team owner Arthur Blank is donating $17 million to an Atlanta civil rights museum in order for the facility to expand and offer a new program.

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Blank, who owns the Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, will be gifting the money to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Most of the money will be used to fund a three-story west wing and add a program to educate visitors about lynching.

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Blank’s family foundation announced the donation Thursday.

“The most effective way to make progress together as a community is to shine a light on the issues that exist and to then do something about them so that everyone can feel a sense of understanding and support,” Blank said in a statement. “We believe in the power of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to educate, include and transform the whole of this community and this country so that together, we can create tangible, positive change.”

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The space will “showcase the Without Sanctuary Collection of postcards of lynching and anti-lynching artifacts,” according to the Falcons’ team website. The papers of Martin Luther King Jr. will be featured as well.

“Arthur Blank invested in the idea of an Atlanta-based National Center for Civil and Human Rights more than a decade ago, before we had a building, and has been a champion ever since,” The Center CEO Jill Savitt said in a statement.

“This generous gift allows us to expand our vision – to be a national organization working to help people tap their own power to change the world and to live with purpose. We hope Arthur Blank's leadership investment invites others to join us in promoting fairness and dignity for all.”

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Blank is a co-founder of Home Depot. His net worth is reportedly listed at $5.3 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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