Bank of America grants $500K to International African American Museum

Bank of America’s donation matched a previous $500K contribution from 2018

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Bank of America reaffirmed its support for the International African American Museum (IAAM) with an additional $500,000 grant on top of its previous contribution of the same amount in 2018.

“This second major gift from Bank of America underscores the company’s commitment to our mission and to work that moves the dial on equity and racial justice,” said IAAM CEO Dr. Tonya M. Matthews in a press release. “We are grateful and proud to be in partnership with such an esteemed organization.”

Still shot of construction of the IAAM via a live video feed

Scheduled for opening in 2022, the $92 million museum will stand on a riverfront stretch of land in Charleston, S.C. — formerly known as Gadsden’s Wharf — the place of arrival for an estimated 40% of enslaved Africans brought to North America during transatlantic slave trade, according to the Greenville Business Magazine.

Organizers say the museum’s mission is to chart the journey of those ancestors while honoring their stories and lasting legacies on a national and global scale through rotating exhibits, educational programs and other events.

As development continues, the additional $500,000 in funding will support operational planning and program development as the museum continues recruiting new members for its growing leadership team.

Matthews, who was appointed as CEO in March according to ABC News 4 Charleston, is also the founder of the STEMinista Project, a national skill-building and mentorship initiative designed to inspire middle school-aged girls to pursue careers in STEM fields. 

“The International African American Museum is poised to be a critical global treasure,” Matthews said after being named to the role, per News 4. “I am both humbled and compelled to step into the role of CEO of this incredible institution that is so necessary for these incredible times and beyond.”

“I am excited to stand with the people of Charleston as we steward this sacred site and the often-silenced stories of American history – both the horrific and the victorious – that continue to challenge our efforts to create a more perfect union,” she added.

“Bank of America’s doubling of support for the International African American Museum is part of our ongoing commitment to advance racial equality and create economic opportunity for people and communities of color,” said Mark Munn, president of Bank of America Charleston-Hilton Head.

The national banking company announced in June it would commit $1 billion over the next four years to addressing systems of racial and economic inequality exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This direct investment will further the mission of the museum and our shared goals of supporting conversations and actions that can advance economic and social progress,” Munn added.

Former Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., a lifetime board member of IAAM, lauded the banking company for its consistent support of the museum’s development from the very beginning.

“We are so grateful for Bank of America’s tremendous support and leadership, which has helped the museum reach major milestones,” Riley said in a statement. “During critical and early stages in the creation of the museum, Bank of America has been there.”

For more information about IAAM, click here.

theGrio’s Kia Morgan-Smith contributed to this report.

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