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King Day 2010 raises $28,000 for CRI

Photo by Ricki Barker

Photo by Ricki Barker

ALBANY, Ga. -- Thanks to the fundraising efforts from January's King Day celebration, the Albany Civil Rights Institute is coming closer to financial stability.

The institute accepted a contribution of $28,000 from donations received at the annual event.

"We raise money so we can continue to give to the community," said Chris Cohilas, an attorney at Watson Spence and co-chairman of the King Day celebration.

Officials say the response was positive considering recent circumstances with the economy. "It's great to say we are on the way up," Cohilas said. "Every penny counts."

Lee Formwalt, the institute's executive director, said the funding would go toward helping the facility reach self-sufficiency and to help its staff better tell the city's history.

"This allows us to do the kinds of things we need to do to tell the story of the (Civil Rights) movement," he said. "Race is an issue with this community. We need to deal with this issue and move forward.

"It (the institute) is extremely important to have in this community. It's important for people of color and for all of our citizens."

The facility's gift shop is among the elements that are in need of expansion, Formwalt added.

The executive director also said that the facility has doubled its membership in the last six months, and has increased its sponsorships -- which has, in turn, generated additional revenue.

"We are doing better financially," he said.

The amount raised during the King Day event this year reflected a net profit increase of $1,500 from the 2009 event.

In March, the institute launched a fundraising effort dubbed the "Legacy Pew" campaign. For a donation of $5,000, an individual can have his or her name inscribed on a plate and attached to one of the pews at Old Mt. Zion Church -- which is located on the facility's grounds.

Formwalt said a similar campaign will be launched in the next month that will allow those donating $10,000 to have a stained glass window at the church dedicated in their name.

"The church is our most important artifact," he said.

At 7:30 p.m. June 24, the institute will host its monthly community night. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of "The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Urban America," will be the guest speaker.