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IAAM to host programming events for public in anticipation of grand opening

CRBJ Biz Wire //February 2, 2023//

IAAM to host programming events for public in anticipation of grand opening

CRBJ Biz Wire //February 2, 2023//

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Charleston, S.C. — Ahead of its official opening later this year, the International African American Museum (IAAM) has announced a series of virtual and in-person programming that honors the lives and legacies of the African American community. Starting in February, IAAM’s programming will offer both the local community and future visitors a number of opportunities to engage with a variety of educational content.

The programming kicks off with a Black History Month Webinar Series, featuring three panel discussions about the challenges of African American genealogy research and best practices for getting started with family genealogy. Additional events include a panel on the Charleston domestic slave trade featuring Margaret Seidler, known as the “Accidental Historian,” and a music-oriented journey into Gullah Geechee culture with Sunn m’Cheaux, an instructor of the Gullah language in Harvard University’s African Language Program.

In March, the Annual Awakening of the Ancestors program, in partnership with the First Baptist Church of James Island, returns. This popular museum program will once again take participants on a musical journey that taps an intersection of Lowcountry spirituals to explore Gullah Geechee culture. In honor of Women’s History Month, there will be a weekly Saturday storytelling series called “Her Voice, Our Story,” featuring historic, poetic, and musical tales from a diverse set of African diasporic voices.

“While we look forward to welcoming visitors to the museum in the coming months, in the meantime we encourage folks to engage with our programming honoring how African American labor, resistance, and ingenuity has shaped our country and our world,” said Malika N. Pryor, chief learning and engagement officer for the International African American Museum. “We hope these events will provide a preview of the type of educational content we will regularly curate once we open our physical doors.”

For a comprehensive list of upcoming programming and ways to register and/or RSVP, see below or visit the IAAM website at

Black History Month Webinar Series
IAAM, in partnership with the Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor, will present a series of weekly Saturday Zoom webinars starting on February 4. These webinars will be held through the end of Black History Month. Interested participants can register for each panel discussion using the corresponding links below.

African American Genealogy Challenges | Saturday, February 4, 1pm ET |
Focusing on the 1870 “Brick Wall,” the first time African Americans were recorded in the census, this panel will delve into the myriad of factors that make African American genealogy research particularly challenging. This session will present methods and strategies, and a number of resources available to those interested in researching their African American ancestry, such as online databases, historical societies, genealogy libraries, and local archives. Panelists will be announced in the coming weeks.

Getting Started with Lowcountry Genealogy | Saturday, February 11, 1pm ET |
Panel discussion with Taneya Koonce (deputy director of the Center for Knowledge Management at Vanderbilt University Medical Center), Vicki McGill (professional genealogist and instructor at the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute), and Toni Carrier (director of IAAM’s Center for Family History)

This session aims to provide an introduction to those interested in getting started with Lowcountry genealogy research, the process of tracing one’s family history in the Lowcountry region of the southeastern United States, which includes the coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina.

Researching for the United States Colored Troops | Saturday, February 18, 1pm ET |
Panel discussion with Angela Walton-Raji (author of Black Indian Genealogy Research), Bernice Bennett (author of Tracing Their Steps – A Memoir), and Darius Brown (researcher and genealogist at IAAM)

The United States Colored Troops (USCT) were African American military units that served during the Civil War, played a significant role in the Union Army, and were instrumental in securing victory for the North. This session will demonstrate how researching the USCT can provide valuable information for those interested in African American genealogy and military history.

Charleston Domestic Slave Trade | Saturday, February 25, 1pm ET |
Panel discussion with Margaret Seidler (“Accidental Historian”), Dr. Bernard Powers (founding director of the Center for the Study of Slavery in Charleston), and Mia McLeod (former South Carolina state senator)

Known as the “Accidental Historian,” Margaret Seidler will share details of her genealogical research that led to the discovery of her ancestor’s slave brokerage business on Broad Street in downtown Charleston.

“First, there was the word”: Conversations with Authors Who Are Theologians
February 21, 6:30 PM ET |
Conversation with Funlayo E. Wood, PhD
In this first conversation in IAAM’s newest quarterly activation, Funlayo E. Wood, PhD, will present on “Other” Spaces of Black Spirituality: African Americans and African Religions. This presentation and conversation will explore African traditions including Hoodoo, Haitian Vodoun, and Yoruba-derived traditions as practiced by African Americans. Audience members will become acquainted with the history of these traditions, why they have evoked fear and bias in American Society, and how they have served and continue to serve as sources of empowerment in African American life.

Awakening of the Ancestors Through Music
March 11, 4:00 PM ET | First Baptist of James Island
In partnership with the First Baptist Church of James Island, Sunn m’Cheaux, Christal Heyward, and Dr. Jessica Berry, Awakening of the Ancestors Through Music will offer the public an experience that is as melodic as it is revelatory. Audiences will embark on a journey that uses an intersection of Lowcountry spirituals to explore Gullah Geechee culture. The event provides opportunities for learning, from witnessing the Lowcountry’s rich ancestral music heritage – its styles, meaning, language, and purpose – to directly engaging in dialogue and community throughout the entire program.

“Her Voice, Our Story” Storytelling Series
Every Saturday in March from 11:00-12:00pm ET, starting on March 4th | TBA
As a celebration of Women’s History Month in March, youth and families from across the city are invited to join IAAM every Tuesday in the museum’s African Ancestral Memorial Garden to learn about some of the many amazing African American women who make up American history and the legends that inspired them. Storytellers to be announced. Every story will include a complimentary take-home activity.

The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores cultures and knowledge systems retained and adapted by Africans in the Americas and the diverse journeys and achievements of these individuals and their descendants in South Carolina, the United States, and throughout the African Diaspora. IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history and is thus one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. Set to open in 2023, IAAM is positioned to honor the untold stories of the African American journey from Charleston, S.C., at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit or call 843-872-5352.