The National Archives at Atlanta’s “Coming to America: Celebrating the Immigrant Experience” will have a member of the Atlanta consular corps as the keynote speaker on Friday, July 20.
He’s John E. Parkerson, Jr., director of the Office of International Programs at Clayton State University, and Honorary Consul for Hungary for the southeastern United States. Coming to America: Celebrating the Immigrant Experience, will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the National Archives at Atlanta, 5780 Jonesboro Rd., in Morrow, just west of the Clayton State campus.
Following the welcome by James McSweeney, regional administrator of National Archives at Atlanta, and a proclamation Morrow Mayor J.B. Burke, Parkerson will take the podium to say a few words about the importance of diversity, international students, and international programs at Clayton State, where there are approximately 70 non-immigrant international students studying on student visas, along with hundreds of multi-cultural students whose parents or grandparents immigrated to the U.S.
“One of the reasons that we study `international’ in all its forms at Clayton State is so that we may understand the diversity that makes our communities and the nation so great,” says Parkerson. “America gets her strength not just from rich natural resources, but as much from the richness of its multicultural society. We thus gain the benefit of getting to listen to many different perspectives: we mix them in a large national `pot,’ and we process them into ideas that are far greater than the individual components.”
Coming to America: Celebrating the Immigrant Experience will feature various activities celebrating the immigrant experience, including the unveiling of "The Lost Mural" a recreation by Andrew Sabori of a mural that hung at Ellis Island. The original mural, commissioned by the WPA in 1938 and painted by Edward Laning, was displayed at Ellis Island until the early 1950s at which time a storm destroyed most of the mural.
In 2003 Sabori, an artist and muralist, visited Ellis Island to find out more information about the original mural. He subsequently uncovered a photograph of the original and decided to recreate it for exhibit and educational purposes. It will be unveiled at the National Archives at Atlanta on July 20.
Several prominent members of the Atlanta community who came to America will also take the podium to share their experiences about what becoming an American means to them.
A naturalization ceremony will conclude the formal program. Interviews will be conducted with program participants, other invited dignitaries, and newly naturalized citizens. These interviews will preserve their stories for future generations.