Charleston City Council approves IAAM construction contracts; some citizens disagree

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)— The International African American Museum, IAAM, is on track for groundbreaking this fall.

Tuesday night, Charleston City Council took another step towards construction— voting unanimously to approve several important contacts needed to begin.

However, several community members aren’t on board with parts of the plan.

Millicent Brown, Charlestonian, and former history professor says that her voice and those of the Citizens Want Excellence group need to be heard in the decision-making process for the International African American Museum.

She said, “We couldn’t seem to understand why those with museum credentials, museum experience, locals with knowledge of the area of the subject matter, could never seem to be brought to the table.”

Brown and other group members of Citizens Want Excellence says that the intended narrative of the museum will focus too much on slavery and not enough on the native origins and achievements of Africans.

“African history does not start with the transatlantic slave trade,” she explains.  “We resent very much that there’s an opportunity to educate everybody about the genius of Africa before the exploitation of slavery and we need to know why we cannot include that symbolically, as well as through the narrative.”

The group says they have been voicing their concerns for more than a decade.

Tonight, they were hoping for Charleston City Council to defer any action on contracts. Despite their protests, all the construction contracts received unanimous approval and groundbreaking on the International African American Museum will remain on target for Fall 2019.

Charleston’s long-time Mayor, Joe Riley, says that he is confident in the museum and feels that community input was and will continue to be welcomed in the planning process.

“I think that there’s been all that input and with the historians and local citizens who’ve been working on it… I think what has been developed is a splendid museum plan,” he said.

For more information on International African American Museum plans, click here.

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