Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights has tapped Derreck Kayongo to lead the institution.
A native of Uganda, Kayongo and his family fled the country during the dictatorship of Idi Amin.
Kayongo is a human rights activist and humanitarian who founded the Global Soap Project, an organization that takes discarded soap from hotels and distributes it to the poor throughout the world.
He’s also worked with CARE and Amnesty International.
According to the center, Kayongo has been recognized for his work, including a CNN Top 10 Heroes award in 2011, the Maxx Entrepreneurship Award, the Certificate of Congressional Recognition by Congressman John Lewis and accolades from Noble Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In an interview with “Closer Look” host Rose Scott, Kayongo said his parents and Georgia Congressman John Lewis are huge influences.
Among his top priorities, Kayongo said he wants to meet with center’s board and staff to craft strategies.
“We want to have a global footprint and making sure that people see the center as an established and recognizable landmark for the city,” he said.
The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is considered a bridge between the civil rights movement and current global human rights issues.
The idea for the center was brought to former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin during her first term in 2002. In 2012, Franklin told WABE the credit goes to civil rights icons Dr. Joseph and Evelyn Lowery and Ambassador Andrew Young.
“After a period of discussion we decided that really through the discussion with them and others that it was important to tie the civil rights movement with the human rights movement both historically and in contemporary fashion,” Franklin said.