By Dr. J. Ester Davis
Over the holidays I visited the African American Museum at Fair Park. After touring the “Slavery at Monticello” Exhibit, which has an extended stay at the museum through January, 2019, I asked about Dr. Harry Robinson, the Founder/CEO of the museum. And low and behold he was sitting in an adjacent room signing papers. My granddaughter and I were invited in and we sat for another hour in remiscence of the founding days of the museum. This room Dr. Harry Robinson was sitting in was laced with black and white high profile pictures of some of the African American pioneers that believed in the dream of an African American Museum in Dallas. We travelled all the way back to the beginning of same in the basement of the library at Paul Quinn College now over thirty(30)years ago.
Among other things I was curious about his thoughts concerning the International African American Museum (IAAM) in Charleston following in his footsteps and their major milestone of the $75 million fundraising goal. Actually, we never got to that subject. Dr. Robinson is a visionary, a natural born college professor. . . who is never visionless. There is always a project on the horizon, designing people to propel it; and, of course, a story to qualify its merit and worth.
This past August, the IAAM gave thanks to the generosity of more than a hundred donors who made contributions ranging from $100 to $10 million. . . enough encouragement for the Charleston City Council to agree to move forward on the construction process and to hire a construction manager.
“The IAAM has a particularly powerful meaning. Nearly half of all enslaved Africans forced to America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade arrived in Charleston, and the vast majority disembarked at Gadsden’s Wharf, the future home of the IAAM, and one of the most significant and sacred sites of the African American experience in the Western Hemisphere. The museum, a site of conscience, will present, commemorate, celebrate the foundational role that Africans played in the making of America and highlight their diasporic connections around the world”.
So, keep your eye on the progress of the IAAM. Former Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., reported that the IAAM is coming to life through the generous donation and “ unwavering support of our donors. A donor pledged $1 million to the museum in 2015, has doubled her commitment, pledging another $1 million this week”. President and CEO Michael B. Moore, continues that the museum leadership is focused on “adhering to our timeline. We plan to present our construction contract to Charleston City Council in late January, break ground in May and open our doors two years later in the summer of 2021”.
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