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Year of triumph: International African American Museum (IAAM) celebrates first anniversary with special programming from Juneteenth through the anniversary

Festivities highlight year of progress, inclusivity, and empowerment

Charleston, S.C. – The International African American Museum (IAAM) will celebrate its first anniversary with numerous special programs designed to promote the museum’s accomplishments and encourage residents across Charleston, the Lowcountry, and the state of South Carolina to embrace the iconic entity as a local treasure that is becoming a national icon.

“This milestone is a testament to the power of unity and the importance of telling our stories authentically,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, the inaugural president and CEO of the museum, which tells the stories of African Americans and teaches visitors to find and tell their own stories. “Through our exhibits and education programs, we will continue to build a world where our history is honored, with humanity as our common bond.”

After an opening that USA Today called one of the “Ten Best New Museums to Visit” and spending a year building membership and programming, IAAM will now focus its attention on the local community.

Beginning this summer, the museum will conduct extensive outreach to Charleston, Lowcountry and South Carolina residents to encourage them to visit the historic site, discover their stories, and learn about the achievements and contributions of Black Charlestonians and South Carolinians who were instrumental to America’s success.

The museum will also host special programming from Juneteenth to the anniversary to celebrate its present and future success. The programming includes:

J.O.Y. Juneteenth on the Yard, June 19: IAAM Public Historian Brandon Reid will host this celebration beginning at noon, featuring local hip-hop sensation Benny Starr, a live DJ, food, and storyteller Julian Gooding. Reid will also be joined by Charleston influencer Alicia Brooks, starting at noon onsite in the museum’s West Yard, 14 Wharfside Street, Charleston, S.C., 29401.

June 20: The celebration continues with IAAM’s Anniversary Jubilee Soirée, the museum’s annual signature fundraiser. It’s an evening with eminent artist Jonathan Green, as well as Lowcountry stars Virginia Stokes-Watson, Cookie Washington, Chef BJ Dennis and Chef Bintou N’Daw. The event, whereby proceeds will benefit the museum’s local outreach, begins at 6:00 p.m., onsite.

June 23: IAAM’s Faith Based Department will partner with Lowcountry Juneteenth Week to honor eight community heroes who have tirelessly worked for humanity’s betterment and to uphold the legacy of freedom and empowerment. This black-tie affair will begin onsite at the museum at 7:00 p.m.

June 25: IAAM’s Center for Family History will hold its Genealogy 101 workshop at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., onsite at workshops are in the Center for Family History Conference room. The workshops will guide visitors through the essential steps to start their genealogy journey, unraveling their families’ pasts using proven research methods, online databases, and traditional archives.

June 27: The final special program occurs on the museum’s anniversary, Thursday, June 27, with the debut of “Salon Marronage,” a new series of discussions hosted by IAAM President and CEO Dr. Tonya Matthews. The first session, onsite at 6:00 p.m., features Lonnie G. Bunch III, the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He and Matthews will discuss the crucial role museums play in preserving and telling authentic stories.

“As we celebrate the museum’s first anniversary, let us remember that our journey is not measured in years but in the lives we touch and the stories we share,” Matthews said. “We will continue to weave a tapestry of strength, wisdom and hope for future generations.”

For more information about IAAM’s first anniversary events, visit www.iaamuseum.org.


The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores the impact of the African American journey on Charleston, the nation and the world, shining light and sharing stories of the diverse journeys, origins and achievements of descendants of the African Diaspora. Spread across 11 galleries and a memorial garden with art, objects, artifacts and multimedia interaction, IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history. As a result, the museum will stand as one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. IAAM’s mission is to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org.


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