updated 10/23/2006 6:57:43 PM ET 2006-10-23T22:57:43

The Coca-Cola Co. announced Monday it is donating $10 million worth of prime downtown land to the city to develop a civil rights museum in the hometown of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive Neville Isdell said his company is donating 2½ acres near the Georgia Aquarium and the new World of Coca-Cola, now under construction. Coke previously donated nine acres for the aquarium.

“There is no more appropriate home for a civil rights museum than the cradle of America’s civil rights movement,” Isdell said. “This city is the principal guardian of Dr. King’s dream. It our duty — as citizens of Atlanta — not just to preserve his dream but to build upon it.”

Isdell said the idea for the museum came from Mayor Shirley Franklin, who said in January a civil rights museum belongs in Atlanta.

A spokeswoman for Franklin said Monday she had no details on the museum or who would develop it.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who was a leading civil rights activist during the 1960s, said Atlanta is the “capital of the modern-day civil rights movement” and should have a civil rights museum, just like other cities that were prominent in the movement, such as Birmingham and Montgomery in Alabama and Memphis, Tenn.

Lewis said the proposed museum will complement the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, where King and his wife, Coretta, are buried.

“There is a role for the King center, but there is a role for a major civil rights museum” in Atlanta, Lewis said.

Atlanta also is home to King’s collected papers. In June, a group of Atlanta philanthropic leaders and businesses — including Coca-Cola — bought the papers from the King family. King’s alma mater, Morehouse College, will house the collection.

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