New museum to stand on S.C. spot where slaves first came to America
A riverfront stretch of land in Charleston, S.C. — formerly known as Gasden’s Wharf — where slaves took their first footsteps on American soil will be turned into the International African American Museum in honor of the enslaved African people who arrived there in chains.
The museum is part of a $100 million project to build a 40,000-square foot facility charting the troubling history of the African slave trade, reports the Greenville News. Many African slaves who came to mainland America likely traveled through the Charleston Harbor. Now the beautiful swath of lush, green land is where the museum will be built. Completion is expected in 2020.
“I understand the history that occurred there,” said IAAM chief executive officer and president Michael Boulware Moore. “I understand tens of thousands of people, including my ancestors, disembarked there in chains. I am confronted by the emotions that must have been felt on that space and just by the enormity of what happened.”
The museum is expected to provide rich cultural experiences and exhibits that outline the achievements and heritage of African American people.
According to historians it’s estimated that some 90 percent of all African-Americans can trace at least one ancestor to this land. The Charleston harbor is offered referred to as the African slave’s Ellis Island.
Moore said, however, he still needs to raise millions of dollars to being construction on the project.
“We’re trying to create an experience that tells the truth about history, that delivers an unvarnished history,” Moore said, “but that does it in a way that people, regardless of their background, walk out feeling uplifted, feeling inspired by the perseverance of the people they’ve learned about, by just the grittiness of what they went through and the fact that they overcame that and contributed great things.”
The interactive museum will give take visitors on a tour from 17th century West Africa to the present-day. It will also be a place where forums can be held and guests will be able to take training sessions and have conversations about social issues and how to create awareness and champion for change. It will also include a multimedia theater, gift shop and multi-purpose community room.
It will include eight exhibits and will feature a Center for Family History for visitors can trace their genealogy and connect their past to their present by finding out which African country their ancestors originated from.
“It’s an exciting project, to have this piece of property with such historical significance in downtown Charleston,” TD Bank South Carolina market president David Lominack said. “We believe the Center for Family history is going to be one of the most powerful components of the museum and will allow somebody to make that connection with an ancestor that came through Gadsden’s Wharf.”