CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Mayor Joe Riley says he was surprised by a big donation to the International African American Museum.
Boeing has donated half a million dollars to the project.
Mayor Riley was presented a check for it Tuesday night at the Columbia Urban League dinner. This massive donation is on top of $250,000 Boeing has already donated to the museum fund.
In a statement, Boeing's Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Tim Keating, says, in part, "We at Boeing hope to play a key role in helping tell the story of the largely overlooked history of African Americans in the Charleston area."
"This is part of American history that we know so little of, the history of Africans being brought here and their role building and shaping America," said Joe Riley, Mayor of the City of Charleston.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley says Boeing 500-thousand dollar donation will be a huge boost to fundraising efforts for the International African American Museum.
Riley says now the project has the "Boeing stamp of approval," which he believes will cause other big corporations to be willing to donate, as well.
Riley says they are about halfway to their fundraising goal $75 million, the amount Riley says he needs pledged before ground can be broken.
Once complete, Riley says the museum will be one of a kind.
"This museum will be a gift to the country and a source of immense pride to the citizens of South Carolina," said Riley.
The museum will unveil what many consider Charleston's ugly past, the city's major role in the slave trade and civil war. It will also help families trace their ancestors.
"One of the unique features of the IAAM will be a family history center," said Riley.
A new addition to the museum is a special exhibit for Emanuel AME. Riley says the church has played a significant role in Charleston's history before and after the tragic shooting massacre in July.
Even the foundation of the museum has significance. It will be built at what used to be called Gadsden's Wharf, where hundreds of thousands of slaves were brought into Charleston in the 18th century.
"It is a very historic and sacred place," said Riley. "It has such a huge relevance to the purpose of the institution"
Riley says the project is on track to start construction in spring of 2017. They plan to have it open to the public in the summer of 2018.
He plans to stay on the planning board through the end of the project, despite ending his mayoral term ending in January.
There's an upcoming fundraiser for the International African American Museum.
On December 9, from 7 to 830 pm, two award winning filmmakers will speak at the Gaillard Center.
Ken Burns and Henry Louis Gates Jr. will lead a discussion about race. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the museum project.