The proposed International African-American Museum (IAAM), planned for Charleston, SC, and led by CEO Michael Boulware Moore, SM Class of 1980, just this month celebrated a significant milestone. It surpassed its goal of raising $75 million to start construction.
"We have the unique opportunity to be creating an African American history museum on the spot, largely, where African American history began," says Moore. "We are telling the stories of those who landed there - of their incalculable sacrifices and contributions in the making of America."
Michael Boulware Moore was named the president and CEO of the International African-American Museum (IAAM) in February of 2016, after serving as an IAAM board member for several years. His interest in African-American history and its legacy reflect his roots and his ancestry. Moore is the great-great-grandson of Robert Smalls. Smalls was an enslaved African who, in 1862, took command of a Confederate ship in the Charleston Harbor, sailed it past five Confederate forts in the Atlantic Ocean, and then turned it over to Union forces, winning his freedom and that of his family and crew. He then became a captain in the Union Army. After the Civil War, he was elected to both houses of the South Carolina Legislature and to the U.S. House of Representatives. In October of 2015, Moore delivered a TEDTalk entitled "The Audacity of Robert Smalls" at St. Mark's, as part of the "Lives of Consequence" series at the School's sesquicentennial celebration.
Moore has remained active with and involved in St. Mark's. He is currently a member of the St. Mark's Board of Trustees. In May, he participated in the inaugural reception and discussion for alumni and students of color on Reunion Weekend.
The International African-American Museum will be located at the historic site of Gadsden's Wharf. Nearly half of all enslaved Africans brought to the United States arrived in Charleston, and the majority entered at Gadsden's Wharf. The museum will feature a Center for Family History, where guests will have access to state-of-the-art technology that will assist them in uncovering their ancestries and, in many cases, their personal connections to Gadsden's Wharf. The Center for Family History is expected to begin later this year. The IAAM is scheduled to open its doors in 2020.
Surpassing the $75 million goal was certainly a time for celebration and thanks, but it is also a time to look ahead to the next phase.
"The big one is done, but we still have other work to do," says Moore. "We will quickly shift to raising money to breathe life into this museum. I am grateful to many - including those in the St. Mark's community - who offered guidance and counsel, and their gifts, to getting us to this point. Thank you!"