The International African American Museum team honors the life and legacy of educator, author, community leader and cultural anthropologist Dr. Ade Ajani Ofunniyin.
Born in Charleston, Dr. O, as he was affectionately called, moved to New York City as a child but returned in adulthood upon the request of his grandfather, renowned blacksmith Philip Simmons, to continue his family’s legacy.
Dr. O worked as an apprentice in his grandfather’s blacksmith shop before pursuing an MA degree in archaeology. As part of his studies, he traveled to both Nigeria and Kenya to study African ironwork.
Back in Charleston, he went on to found the Gullah Society. He also taught courses on race and Gullah traditions as an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston.
Last year, Dr. O presented an ancestral blessing and libation at our groundbreaking worship service. He offered continued support for the Museum and its mission of honoring the untold stories of the African American Journey, and was looking forward to being a part of the Museum’s planning team for an upcoming program, “Homegoing: African American Funeral and Mourning practices from African Villages to Covid19.”
We are forever grateful for the meaningful impact his legacy leaves on the Lowcountry community, and wish his loved ones great peace during this difficult time.