By Jordan Cioppa
CHARLESTON, S.C (WCBD) – Twenty-three years of waiting came to an end on Tuesday when the International African American Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.
Overcome with emotion and gratitude, Barbara Oree stood in front on the IAAM on the grand opening to take it all in.
“I’m just, I don’t know, speechless for words sometimes and filled inside all of the time,” said Oree, who volunteers at the museum.
The first set of visitors were welcomed inside at 10 am to learn of African stories, dating back centuries.
“It’s just so much. You know, I just did not know there was just so many historical things here. Right here in the port of Charleston, you know, I work in the port of Charleston,” said Craig Milton who stepped foot inside the IAAM for the first time on Tuesday.
The facility is built on the sacred grounds of what’s formerly known as Gadsden’s Wharf. It’s the very location where nearly half of all enslaved people brought to the United States, entered.
“You’ll see history, you’ll see art, you’ll see culture, you’ll see South Carolina,” Najeema Davis Washington told News 2 during her visit.
The exhibits and artifacts on display are drawing in people of all ages, like nine-year-old Nadia Williams.
“I think that it’s really cool because I get to learn about my ancestors and my culture, and I also get to see what people in my culture have been through. Just to help us in this day right now,” Williams said.
For many visitors, IAAM is an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.
“The experience is just phenomenal. And if you live in Charleston, I advise you, you must see it. It’s important, it’s a transcendent to your life. It changes your life,” Oree said.
The IAAM is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 10 am- 4pm. Tickets are sold out for the next few days. To purchase tickets, click here.