International African American Museum

Mission: to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at one of our country’s most sacred sites.


The International African American Museum will explore cultures and knowledge systems retained and adapted by Africans in the Americas, and the diverse journeys and achievements of these individuals and their descendants in South Carolina, the United States, and throughout the African diaspora. Visitors will engage with dynamic exhibits featuring historic figures, events, and experiences from slavery through the 20th-century civil rights movement and into the present.

African Ancestors Memorial Garden

The African Ancestors Memorial Garden is designed by creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, CA. It will commemorate one of our country’s most sacred sites. It will be a place to reflect, experience botanic gardens, artistic installations, a huge infinity fountain on the edge of the original wharf, a soundscape that explores diverse African languages, performances, programs and more. The Garden will be free and open to the public.

Listen to Walter Hood talk about the Garden.

Center for Family History​

The Center for Family History will serve as a groundbreaking resource for the study and advancement of African American genealogy, with connections to Africa and the African
diaspora. Staff will provide guidance to novice and advanced genealogists to learn more
about family history using the Center’s unique collection of primary sources, documents, and
texts. Workshops and educational programming will be offered.

The Legacy of Harry Cobb

On October 28, 2019, “Harry” N. Cobb, founding partner of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects spoke about designing the museum. He passed away on March 4, 2020 at the age of 93.

"Here then, a purposefully unrhetorical work of architecture quietly affirms the power of place, as it shelters and frames a richly articulated work of landscape art."
Harry Cobb
Chief Architect

A Visual Tour of the Museum

Untold Stories: The Preview

Our Programs


Educational programs will provide life-long learning opportunities for visitors both young and old. We’re busy creating K-12 curriculum, field-trip experiences, digital content, professional development programs, and more.

Public Programs

Our innovative, fresh, fun, interesting and engaging programming will be provided inside of the museum as well as beyond its walls. We’ve already begun to offer programs. Please read our blog to find out more!

Faith-Based Programs

Untold stories about the central role of faith, spirituality and religion in the African and African American will be shared through programming and exhibitions. To learn about current programming, please read our blog.

Our Team


The Museum is so very grateful to the thousands of people and organizations that have helped to create the International African American Museum. Whether by providing advice, funds, expertise, volunteer time – or all four – we could not have gotten to this point in our development without you. Thank you!


Our team members are committed to excellence and share a common goal:
to leverage their individual strengths and help build a great institution.

Elijah Heyward III

Chief Operating Officer


Bernard Powers

Interim Chief Executive Officer

Joy Bivins

Chief Curator

Dianne Bonaventura

Finance Director

Toni Carrier

Director, Center for Family History

Bernice Chu

Museum Planning and Operations

Ginny Deerin

Major Gifts Officer

Cheryl German

Title Here

Carlos Guzman-Gonzalez

Development Assistant

DeMett Jenkins

Lilly Director of Education and Engagement for Faith-Based Communities

Martina Morale

Curatorial Assistant

Sarah Raffurty

Membership Manager

Brenda Tindal

Director of Education and Engagement


The business and affairs of the International African American Museum are governed and controlled by its Board of Directors. The Board insures the financial well-being and sustainability of the museum. All Directors serve as volunteers and generously donate hundreds of hours each year. Serving is a big commitment and we are sincerely grateful to each and every member.

William Barnet, III, CEO of The Barnet Company and Barnet Development Company, Duke Endowment Trustee and Former Mayor of Spartanburg, South Carolina

Mayor Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina

Robert E. Branan, CPA, Financial Manager, Office of Jerome J. Richardson

Peg A. Breen, President of The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Vernita Brown, Director, HR and Operations, Natalist Evelyn McGee Colbert, President of the Montclair
Film Festival Board of Trustees


Robyn Coles, President of TRATE Properties

Grady L. Crosby, Vice President Public Affairs, Chief Diversity Officer and President, Johnson Controls Foundation

Henry E. Darby, Member, Charleston County Council Richard D. Elliott, Esq., Attorney, Former Chair,
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce

Michael P. Gianoni, President & CEO of Blackbaud, Inc.

Jonathan Green, Artist & Activist, Jonathan Green Studios

James Hairston, Head, Public Policy, Oculus, Facebook

Rev. Dr. Isaac Holt, Pastor of Royal Missionary Baptist Church

Carolyn Hunter-Heyward, President of C&A Unlimited, Inc.

Wilbur E. Johnson, Esq., IAAM Board Chair, Attorney & Managing Partner, Young Clement Rivers, LLP

William E. Kennard, IAAM Board Treasurer, Co-Founder and Chairman of Velocitas Partners LLC and Former United States Ambassador to the European Union

Melissa L. Lindler, IAAM Board Secretary, Director, Office of Business Opportunities, City of Columbia, South Carolina

Erwin Maddrey, II, Former CEO & President of Delta Woodside Industries

Kent Matlock, Chairman and CEO of Matlock Advertising and Public Relations

Bernard E. Powers, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of History, College of Charleston Professor

Joseph P. Riley, Jr., Lifetime Member of the IAAM Board, Former Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina

Katherine S. Robinson, Former President and CEO of Historic Charleston Foundation

Rita Scott, Former VP of Live 5 WCSC
Minor Mickel Shaw, President of Micco, LLC,
Chairman of The Duke Endowment

Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Inclusion of Viacom CBS

Henry B. Smythe, Esq., Attorney, Womble Bond Dickinson

J. Elliott Summey, Chair, Charleston County Council

Halle Tecco, Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School and founder Emeritus of Rock Health

Mayor John Tecklenburg, Mayor of Charleston. South Carolina

Perry K. Waring, Charleston City Council Member, Financial Planner

Lucille S. Whipper, Lifetime Member of the IAAM Board, Activist and former State Representative

Heather Andrea Williams, Ph.D., Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought, University of Pennslyvania


Dennis W. Archer, Served on Michigan Supreme Court, former Mayor of Detroit, 1st African American President of American Bar Association

Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe, Arthur Ashe’s widow, photographer

Bruce Babbitt, Former United States Secretary of Interior and Governor of Arizona

David Beasley, Former South Carolina Representative and Governor of South Carolina, Chairman-Center for Global Strategies

Lonnie Bunch, 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Founding Director-Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

James Clyburn, United States Representative, 1st African American in Congress from South Carolina since Reconstruction, founder of The James E. Clyburn Research and Scholarship Foundation, elected pres. of his NAACP youth chapter when he was 12 years old

Morris Dees, Co-founder/Chief trial counsel-South- ern Poverty Law Center, awarded the ABA Medal-their highest honor

David Dinkins, Former Mayor of NYC, 1st and only African American to hold that position, Professor-Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs

Howard Dodson, Director-Howard University Library, former director-Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, heavy involvement with African Burial Ground Project

Don Fowler, Former National Chair-DNC, Citadel
Professor-Urban Politics, Fowler Communications

Harvey Gantt, Architect, 1st African American student at Clemson, former Mayor of Charlotte-their 1st African American mayor

Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr., Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, an American historian, literary scholar, journalist, cultural critic, and institution builder, became the first African-American scholar to be awarded the National Humanities Medal

Marcia Hale, President, Building America’s Future Education Fund, Assistant to President Clinton and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House

Jim Hodges, Former Governor of South Carolina, advisor/partner McQuire Woods

J. Mac Holladay, Founder/CEO-Market Street Services, Charleston and SC Chamber of Commerce

Sheila C. Johnson, Founder & CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts

Walter F. Johnson, Retired Army Brigadier General, former defense contractor

John Lewis, United States Representative, one of the “Big Six” of Civil Rights movement

Jon Meacham, Pulitzer award winning author, Executive Editor-Random House, former co-host-PBS

Marc H. Morial, President/CEO-National Urban League, former Mayor of New Orleans, appointed to President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability

Robert Moses, Educator, leader in Civil Rights movement, founder of The Algebra Project

Phylicia Rashad, Nationally acclaimed actress, 1st African-American actress to win Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

Richard W. Riley, Former United States Secretary of Education, former SC Governor, Partner-Nelson Mullins law firm, honorary co-chair-World Justice Party

Steve Roberts, Journalist, writer, political commentator, Professor of journalism and political communication at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs

Kurt Schmoke, Dean, Howard University Law School, former Mayor of Baltimore-their 1st African American mayor, Rhodes Scholar, former Assistant US Attorney, part of President Carter’s Domestic Policy Staff

Cleveland Sellers, Former President, Voorhees College, former Director-African American Studies Program at USC, only person convicted/jailed during the 1968 Orangeburg Massacre, rec’d full pardon 25 years later

Inez Tenenbaum, Attorney, WYCHE, P.A.; former South Carolina Superintendent of Education

Henry Tisdale, President, Claflin University, NAACP Award-Educator of the Year, American Council on Education Commission on Effective Leadership

William Winter, Former Governor of Mississippi, The William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation on the Univ. of Miss. at Oxford, former member of President Clinton’s Advisory Board on Race, special counsel in Jones Walker law firm’s Government Relations Practice Group