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Oct 15, 2019

Press Release: IAAM Groundbreaking

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Elijah Heyward III, PhD
[email protected]
843 872.5352


October 15, 2019

International African American Museum Announces Groundbreaking

Illuminating the African American Journey

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The International African American Museum (IAAM) announced its public Groundbreaking Ceremony will be held Friday, October 25 at 10:00. The theme for the occasion is “Illuminating the African American Journey.”

“For almost twenty years, more than one thousand individuals, corporations and foundations have been working to bring the museum into fruition,” said former mayor, Joe Riley. “The Groundbreaking Ceremony will give us an opportunity to express our deepest appreciation to the donors, volunteers, and supporters who have worked so hard to get us to this milestone.” As mayor, Riley first announced plans to build the museum in his 2000 State of the City Address.

The IAAM will illuminate the story of the journey of enslaved Africans who were taken from West Africa, entered North America in Charleston SC, endured hardship and cruelty, and then contributed so significantly to the greatness of America. The museum and memorial garden will honor the site where enslaved Africans arrived and thousands died, tell of important narratives that have been overlooked in most history books, and promote compassion and empathy across all races and ethnicities.

The Groundbreaking Ceremony will take place at 10 Wharfside Street, Charleston, SC 29401; on the Charleston Harbor adjacent to the former Gadsden’s Wharf where the IAAM will be built. The program will last approximately 90 minutes; a reception with light refreshments will follow.

Tickets for the event are free and available on a first come, first serve basis. The public is encouraged to visit the IAAM website ( as soon as possible to reserve tickets.”

In addition to the Groundbreaking Ceremony, the public is invited to an interfaith Worship Service on Thursday, October 24, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at Mother Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401. This service is open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

“The worship service provides an opportunity to honor the role of faith traditions in the African American journey. We are also excited for the community to come together in the spirit of praise and thanksgiving to mark the beginning of a new journey that will culminate in the opening of the International African American Museum,” said Dr. Elijah Heyward III, IAAM Chief Operating Officer. Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Pastor Emeritus, Riverside Church, New York will give the Homily. The service will also include choirs, musical and dance performances, and more. This event is open to the public.

About the IAAM:

This is the Story of a Journey

The International African American Museum tells the story of a journey that began more than 300 years ago when enslaved Africans were first taken from West Africa to our young nation.  Almost half of them arrived at a single port: Charleston, SC.  Gadsden’s Wharf was the primary point of arrival.  It is the site for this museum that will tell the story of this journey: the passage, cruelty, hardship, joy, and achievement.  A Center for Family History will enable visitors to trace their genealogy.  A comprehensive education program will provide life-long learning, and there will be changing exhibitions and special events throughout the year.


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