The following is excerpted from the Church Newsroom. To read the full article, CLICK HERE

The grand opening ceremony for the International African American Museum (IAAM) was held on Saturday, June 24, 2023. The museum is built on a portion of the former Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina — an important spot in American history.

“As I look out into Gadsden’s Wharf, into the harbor where 100,000 Africans first touched the soil of the United States of America — right here where you are seated — it’s a lot,” actress and Howard University Fine Arts Dean Phylicia Rashad said to kick off the grand opening. “Yes, this location represents one of the most prolific slaving warehouses and operations in history. But now, today, we reclaim this land and honor the countless lives lost and enslaved with a monument to our history, our families, our heritage, our contributions, and, yes, our future.”

“Every single aspect of this museum is unrelenting,” said former Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, who helped start and complete the IAAM. “The results are splendid: Henry Cobb’s elegant Building. Walter Hood’s extraordinary landscape design. Robust exhibits. The Center for Family History. And committed staff and volunteers, nationwide partnerships and generous donors. This museum that we open today is a gift to our country. And it is a gift to each of us and to future generations. This powerful museum will teach us and inspire us to build a better future together.”

At a news conference on Friday, June 23, IAAM President and CEO Tonya Matthews said the history of the land on which the museum sits makes it hallowed ground.

“[This was] our nation’s most prolific transatlantic slave trading port, where nearly 50% of all enslaved human beings who came to what is now the United States would have entered right through this this very space,” Matthews said. “It is why we refer to it as hallowed ground, a sacred site. Some folks even reference ground zero.”

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