Charleston’s former slave trade port will reopen as a museum

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Many have used the age-old tale of a phoenix rising from the ashes as a metaphor for life to remind us that beauty can be on the other side of pain, tragedy and loss if we allow it.

The sordid history of Gadsden’s Wharf, a former slave ship docking port in Charleston, South Carolina, will soon be revamped as the International African American Museum.

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Gadsden’s Wharf operated at the height of the international slave trade, with around 100,000 enslaved Africans transported and sold from the wharf as literal cargo. Now, a 150,000 square foot facility will take its place starting the weekend of January 21, 2023. This plan has surprisingly been in the works before that launch date, dating back two decades ago when former Charleston Mayor, Joseph P. Riley Jr. announced the plans in 2000.

More below on how things finally took off, via Live News 5:

“Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the International African American Museum, says they led the way in 2020 just before the pandemic hit. Supply chain issues were the biggest setbacks, but they are back on track and are delighted to welcome visitors early next year.

Matthews says the choice of opening date was important, they wanted to have their own space to celebrate. The museum took decades to build and there are several reasons for that.

One reason is that it was built from the ground up at a cost of just under $100 million, and the museum has pledged to raise most of the money before it begins. There is so much African American history here in Charleston. This is another reason why this home base of the museum is unique.

“We had the ability to reclaim space from Gadsden’s Wharf, one of our country’s most prolific international slave-trading ports,” says Matthews.

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Those looking for more information about the International African American Museum can visit on line. Check out a preview of the layout in a WCBD News 2 report below:

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Garland K. Long