New Museum Being Built On Ground Where Enslaved Africans First Landed In US

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The city of Charleston, South Carolina is building a museum on the same ground where hundreds of thousands of African people first arrived to the United States as captives.

The construction of the International African American Museum began in 2019, at Gasden's Wharf on the Charleston Harbor, The Atlanta Black Star reported. The museum is scheduled to be open to visitors late this year.

Historical records from the Charleston County Public Library indicate that the land alongside Cooper River was purchased by Captain Christopher Gadsden in 1758. Gadsden turned the waterfront property into a port for ships and within a month of his purchase, the area became known for its marketplace including slave auctions.

The Smithsonian estimates that nearly half of all enslaved African people brought to the US came through Gadsden's Wharf in Charleston.

Through fundraising and donations, the International African American Museum seeks to tell stories of African people –– enslaved and free –– who lived in the area known as America's Lowcountry. The historical institution will also highlight historical figures and hold events all with the intention of shining light on the area's significance to Black Americans.

The Yawkey Foundation donated $1 million this year to support the museum's operations and to create an exhibition honoring the Gullah Geechee people during its first year.

The museum's president/CEO Dr. Tonya Matthews, told The Daniel Island News that the opportunity to share this history "a weighty privilege."

"African American history is an international tale," Dr. Matthews said in part, "and you want to do all of that in 100,000 square feet."

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