Charleston’s African American Museum Receives Biggest Endowment to Date

In 2000, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley announced his vision to attract more tourists and support the local economy. He pitched the idea of Charleston becoming home to the International African American Museum. 17 years later Riley’s vision is one step closer to reality.

On Oct. 3, Former Mayor Riley, current Mayor John Tecklenburg and President and CEO of the museum Michael Boulware Moore gathered the press and announced the museum’s reception of a $10 million donation from the Indianapolis based Lilly Endowment.

According to The Charleston City Paper,  five million of the donation will be appropriated to the design and construction of the building,four million will placed in the  the museum’s endowment to fund its upkeep and exhibits and the remaining one million will be spent on the museum’s inauguration and other outreach based events. The museum also noted that the Lilly Endowment has invested the largest amount in the project’s history.  

Both Mayor Joe Riley and CEO Michael Boulware Moore view the donation as one gigantic step towards reality for the museum. Riley, who had been searching for donors for some two and half years said, “This incredibly generous gift and most significant investment from one of America’s most respected organizations is such a powerful endorsement for this museum. For it, from the heartland of America, says what you are working on and plan to build is important to our entire nation.” Moore reiterated the sentiment stating, “The light is at the end of the tunnel now,” he continued “We believe this will have a catalytic effect on our fundraising.”   

The museum is set to open in 2020, and will be built in Gadsden’s Wharf. The museum is being built on an area where numerous African Slaves, carried by ship across the Atlantic, entered Charleston. Construction is to begin early in 2018.  

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Alec Abraham, from Gaithersburg, Maryland is a sophomore and political science major. Currently, Alec is the Campus and City News editor for CisternYard News. If you were to stop in for Alec’s office hours, you’d likely find him listening to jazz music.

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