CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Dozens of people from the community gathered on Monday to voice their concerns about how the International African American Museum will tell African American history.
The IAAM plans to open its doors in 2021 at Gadsden's Wharf in downtown Charleston where nearly half of the enslaved Africans who came ashore in North America disembarked.
The designs of the IAAM include full body outlines of enslaved Africans. That’s something, however, those concerned say is not entirely representative.
“This museum insists on a chronology that begins at the point of African American enslavement when there are thousands of years distinguished African and African American history before that time. That’s why we object to it. It tells a partial, but not nearly the whole truth,” Dr. Wilmot Fraser, a concerned citizen, said. “We can’t have an institution that continues to perpetuate the lie that the most important thing about African Americans is their enslavement. That’s simply not true."
The museum will include interactive exhibits and feature a center for family history. A memorial garden will be included as well.
Fraser said it’s not that he doesn’t want a museum, it’s that he wants one that is representative entirely.
“There should be one,” Fraser said. “We have made tremendous contributions to this community especially... The Gullah people of the sea islands and coastal plains have made tremendous contributions to human civilization. And that has to be considered in anything that's built. We certainly want this museum to exist but we want it to tell more of the whole truth - not the partial truth of enslavement only."
Museum officials still anticipate a groundbreaking later in 2019.
The construction contract will go before Charleston City Council July 16. Those with the concerned group say they plan on being at the city council meeting to ask the council to defer that vote.