ALBANY, Ga. -- It's all about the eyeballs.
In an effort to increase public awareness and attract more visitors to the Albany Civil Rights Institute, organization executive director Lee Formwalt announced Monday that funding for an 84-page book detailing the history of the Albany Movement and the ACRI has been secured.
The $25,000 cost of producing and printing the book will be covered by donations from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital ($12,500) and $6,500 each from MillerCoors Brewing and Heritage Bank of the South.
"Fifty-six years ago on this very day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which was the first volley fired in the civil rights movement," Formwalt said. "We have a hidden jewel here in Albany. We need to raise awareness of the ACRI and the importance of the Albany Movement.
"The big question was how to market it. We decided to approach local sponsors for the book. We approached a hospital, a brewery and a bank. And all said 'yes'."
Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick said when asked to help sponsor the book, it was was not a hard decision to make.
"We are celebrating our 100th year, and I can think of no more fitting opportunity to tell the story of Albany, Phoebe and the Civil Rights Movement," Wernick said. "Phoebe was one of the early advocates of civil rights. It was a natural for us."
MillerCoors Brewery Vice President and Plant Manager Timothy Dill regards his company's gift as an investment in education.
"We could not be more pleased to help with this project." Dill said. "When I first got to Albany a year ago, I asked Lee to help teach me, to help me understand the Albany Movement. He said 'don't go back just 50 years, go back 200 to get the real picture'.
"This is all about education. Understanding the information that will be presented in this book can change us all."
Heritage Bank CEO Len Dorminey echoed those sentiments in regard to the upcoming book.
"I think it's an important story that everyone needs to hear," he said. "We need to read the untold stories and remember that the past is important to our future.
"And we are certainly glad to participate in helping to get those stories out."
Formwalt said the book will be put together this summer and should be available for distribution in the fall.
He also urged anyone with photos, clips or stories they'd like to contribute to contact the ACRI at (229) 432-1698.