International African American Museum on track to open early in 2022

Families will be able to trace their roots back to Africa at the facility.
An artist's rendering of the International African American Museum
An artist's rendering of the International African American Museum(Provided)
Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 3:55 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The International African American Museum is scheduled to open its doors early next year in 2022 in Charleston.

Chief Operating Officer Dr. Elijah Heyward, III, describes the IAAM as distinct.

“There’s nowhere else in the country that can say that they have the largest number of captives passing through during the slave trade than Charleston.”

Located near the South Carolina Aquarium, the museum is being built on sacred ground.

“On the ground level, the African Ancestors Memorial Garden will highlight the original shoreline—the exact spot where so many captive Africans first set foot in America,” according to the website.

“We’re honoring the fact that despite the stronghold of slavery, African Americans have been able to transcend and impact the world in really amazing ways,” Heyward said.

During a tour of the site earlier in the month, Professor at The Citadel and former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said the Center for Family History, which will allow families to trace their roots back to Africa, will make the IAAM stand out. He says they’ve already documented the research on one famous ancestor.

“So Michelle Obama’s paternal ancestors landed right here in 1807 or so, bought by a slave plantation in Georgetown county,” Heyward said. “Taken there and worked in the rice field and through genealogical research, they family was able to trace their roots back to that person.”

“This museum is about a journey that began centuries ago in Africa, and still continues,” the museum’s website states. “It is about the journey of millions of Africans, captured and forced across the Atlantic in the grueling and inhumane Middle Passage, who arrived at Gadsden’s Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina and other ports in the Atlantic World. Their labor, resistance and ingenuity and that of their descendants shaped every aspect of our world.”

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