A $250,000 contribution from AT&T has pushed Charleston’s International African American Museum even further beyond the halfway mark for its $25 million private funding goal. To date, the museum has raised a little over $13 million through private philanthropy efforts.
“It is a great honor to have the support of AT&T, a company that supports thousands of South Carolinians with quality jobs, long-term service, and impactful philanthropy – demonstrated once more through this generous support,” said former Charleston mayor and IAAM board member Joseph P. Riley Jr. in a press release.
With an estimated price tag of $75 million, one-third of the funding needed to complete the museum has been pledged by the city of Charleston and Charleston County. State lawmakers have also agreed to contribute $25 million to the effort. Approximately $14 million in funding was set aside in previous annual budgets, and state senators were prepared to allocate another $5 million in June. That was until lawmakers in the state House of Representatives pulled funding from the museum from the most recent state budget, deciding that private fundraising efforts must be completed before the remaining money is handed over.
The decision by the House drew criticism from state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, who told his fellow legislators in June that “While the Senate fought, and has fought for the last three years, to get funding in this budget for the African American Museum, the House refused to do so. So I’m not sure I want to be a part of any budget this legislative session that does not include the African American Museum.”
The month after members of the House made their decision, the International African American Museum announced plans for the museum’s Center for Family History. Housed inside the museum’s proposed location at Gadsden’s Wharf, the center will offer genealogy education, original research, archiving efforts, as well as DNA testing to connect visitors with their ancestors.
“Our contribution to the IAAM will support not only Charleston and South Carolina, but our entire country for years to come. In addition to presenting the history that helped form this nation, it will show us how our differences make us collectively stronger – a core belief at AT&T,” said Pam Lackey, state president of AT&T South Carolina.
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