CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - International African American Museum board leaders announced a major milestone for the project Friday: Michael Boulware Moore will lead the museum's future as president and chief executive officer.
The IAAM is a planned museum, highlighting the "largely overlooked history of African Americans." It's mission is "to re-center South Carolina's place in global history and "illuminate its pivotal role in the development of the international slave trade and the Civil War," according to the museum's website.
The museum is the vision of 40-year Charleston mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr, who announced Moore's appointment today, alongside board chair Wilbur Johnson.
A graduate of Syracuse University with an MBA from Duke University, Moore has served as a business executive with global corporations such as Coca-Cola and Kraft Foods, in addition to leading entrepreneurial firms and his own companies.
Moore, who has served on the IAAM board since 2013, is also the great-great- grandson of Robert Smalls, the enslaved African who in 1862 took command of a Confederate ship in Charleston Harbor and sailed it past five Confederate forts, turning it over to Union forces. Smalls later became a captain in the Union Army and was elected to both houses of the S.C. legislature and to the United State Congress.
"I grew up knowing the remarkable accomplishments of my great-great-grandfather and that his story was one that created great pride for my family," Moore said in a press release. "I'm so proud to have the opportunity to help uncover and celebrate other stories that might be less well known, but equally important to American and African American history."
The "major step forward for the museum" comes nearly four months after its last announcement, when Boeing donated $500,000.
The cost of the museum is an estimated $75 million. Moore will be responsible for directing the affairs of IAAM, including hiring the museum's staff and partnering with board members to raise private donations to match the public funding.
The museum will sit on what was once Gadsden's Wharf near the aquarium. Historians estimate thousands of enslaved Africans who came to the United States first arrived in Charleston; more than 40% took their first steps in American at the wharf.