Community members protest the International African American Museum

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- A group of protesters are unhappy with the development of the International African American Museum.

While the board discussed plans of fundraising, building community engagement, and budget logistics; the group of protesters sat in silence with red tape covering their mouths.

They let signs do the talking. They read “Don’t Trivialize My History”, “Not About Us Without Us”, and “We Demand Ishango Bone Exhibits At IAAM.”

After the meeting wrapped up, one of the members of “Citizens Want Excellence at the IAAM,” Robert Ross, removed his red tape and explained why they were wearing it.

“We are protesting the continued, and repeated attempts to silence us. We will not be silenced,” says Ross.

The group wants to see the museum “expand the narrative and go beyond black oppression in America.” Specifically, to focus on the beginning of African history and it’s influences on America.

“The African is the root of all civilization,” says Ross. “That’s what we want the museum to highlight; not trivialize or minimize our journey from Africa here to Charleston.”

Ross believes an example of a way that the IAAM could do that is with an “Ishango Bone Exhibit.” He explained that the Ishango Bone was a mathematical tool used by Africans over 25,000 years ago.

There is a permanent exhibition of the Ishango Bone that was found in 1960 at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels.

The “Citizens Want Excellence in IAAM” group thinks the International African American museum should include a larger-scale replica of the bone.

“Giving tribute to the Africans and letting our children know that they can they can master mathematics because our ancestors invented it,” says Ross.

IAAM Interim CEO Bernard Powers explains that he has seen many opinions about how the museum should be structured.

“People have different ideas on how they ought to be organized, what the critical issues are, what the emphasis ought to be,” says Powers. “Those kinds of things have to be worked out”

During the meeting tonight members discussed having an open discussion for public comment for the future so the community can feel heard.

“We want to use these sessions to hear the community’s thoughts, issues, and ideas,” says a board member. “Keep in mind, like everyone just heard, we do have budgetary constraints. So even though we want to do everything, because of cost we won’t be able to do everything.”

Some of the goals of the IAAM include implementing specific African American history in 8th grade curriculum and building a committee that spans across the US.

With these ambitions in mind, actual construction will begin on Monday. For more information on the museum, click here.

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