Museum board member and former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said $1 million will be used to help offset rising construction costs from the tight labor market and rising costs of building materials; $1 million will be used to help develop the museum’s education curriculum; and $3 million will be used to create an endowment to fund field trips for students in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia who otherwise would not be able to afford to visit the museum.
“There’s no other place that is sacred as this where you can come to and honor those who were brought here against their wishes and through their hard work and energy and creativity and ingenuity and sacrifice helped build our country,” Riley said Thursday at the museum’s announcement of the donation.
“Forever, children will come to this museum who would not have had the opportunity otherwise because of the generosity of Jerry and Rosalind Richardson, and this afternoon we give thanks to them and we celebrate their remarkable generosity.”
Michael Boulware Moore, president and CEO of the museum, estimated the endowment will pay for 10,000 to 15,000 students to visit the museum each year.
“We work very hard every day to ensure that this museum is a place that is meaningful, is powerful, is impactful, and this gift really allows us to do that,” Moore said.
Margaret Gilmore, superintendent of Allendale County Schools, said Thursday that the donation “is simply a godsend.”
“Field trips are essential for student learning, yet many of our schools, particularly those from rural counties serving high-poverty populations, struggle to secure funds for field trips,” she said. “For a county like Allendale County Schools, the most expensive part of a field trip to the International African American Museum would be the cost of transportation, so a gift like this one will be particularly meaningful and impactful for the students in Allendale.”
When asked whether the museum considered Jerry Richardson’s past racist comments when deciding whether to accept the donation, Moore said they “considered everything.”
The Richardsons were not at the museum’s announcement, but Jerry Richardson said in a statement that the donation marked “a special day for Rosalind and me.”
“America will be a better place the moment IAAM opens its doors on this historic ground,” he said.
The museum is expected to break ground at the former site of Gadsden’s Wharf early next year and open to the public in 2021.