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Charleston's International African American Museum celebrates opening with public events

The new International African Museum at Gadsden's Wharf in Charleston is scheduled to open June 27, 2023.
Provided by IAAM
The new International African Museum at Gadsden's Wharf in Charleston is scheduled to open June 27, 2023.

Museum honoring the untold stories of African Americans announces plans for community involvement prior to opening

Charleston, S.C. - After more than 20 years of planning, fundraising, and creating, the new International African American Museum is about to open its doors. And the public is invited to be involved.

Next week, IAAM will host two events leading up to its June 27th opening. First, a multi-faith worship service at Morris Brown AME Church on Thursday, June 22, at 6 p.m. will reflect on the museum’s journey and celebrate African American history with prayer and song.

“We are thrilled to welcome community members, visitors and dignitaries from far and wide to the grand opening of the International African American Museum,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of IAAM. “We’ve waited a long time for this moment.”

Then, Saturday, June 24, a private dedication ceremony held at 10 a.m. inside the Gadsden’s Wharf museum site will simulcast live at Marion Square. National radio host and South Carolina native Charlamagne tha God will emcee the event which will also include remarks from Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.

Plenty of entertainment is planned for people who come out to the park with performances by the African Song Book featuring a 12-piece band, poets and musicians, including:

  • Amadou Kouyate, 150th generation of the Kouyate family of Manding Djeli (oral historians / musicians of West Africa)
  •  BeBe Winans, Gospel and R&B singer, radio host
  • Candice Glover, R&B singer, actor
  • DJ SCrib, Charleston-based DJ, former Charleston City Paper’s “DJ of the Year”
  • Jesse Nager, Broadway actor and singer
  • Markus Amaker, Charleston Poet Laureate, Academy of American Poets
  • Patti Austin, R&B, pop, and jazz singer / songwriter
  • Patrice Covington, background singer for Oscar and Grammy winner Jennifer Hudson
  • Ranky Tanky, Grammy award-winning, Charleston-based musical ensemble focused on jazz-influenced arrangements of traditional Gullah and Roots music.

The Marion Square event will also feature interactive programming presented by Boeing and a Barbados Genealogy Marketplace that will give guests a chance to research their ancestral family. Both events are free but registration at is required for Thursday’s worship service.

IAAM hopes to stand as a national platform for disrupting institutionalized racism and honor the untold stories of African Americans. The museum site, Gadsden’s Wharf, is where an estimated 100,000 enslaved Africans were brought to this nation during the peak of the international slave trade.

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.