For parents interested in broadening their teens’ understanding of the African American experience and the history of slavery and social justice movements, the new International African American Museum is well worth the trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Scheduled to open this year, the museum is of special interest to families of African American descent, who will also be able to trace their genealogy in the Center for Family History.
Through innovative, interactive exhibits and programs, the museum traces the influence of African culture in the United States, as well as connections across the entire African diaspora.
The location of the museum is significant, standing on the site of the wharf where so many captive Africans first landed in America. Charleston was one of the major ports in the slave trade, and the museum follows the history and influences of slavery and those enslaved.
Going beyond the history, exhibits show the broad influences these captive Africans and their descendants would have on American culture. Examining how they retained and adapted their own culture and learning systems in the face of an alien setting, the museum explores a broad range of African American experiences. The achievements of these captives and later generations are featured, along with their continuing quest for equal rights and social justice.
Staff at the Center for Family History help both beginning and experienced genealogists explore their own family’s history, using the collection of documents, letters, records and other primary sources.
Outside the museum, the African Ancestors Memorial Garden commemorates the former landing point for captives, with gardens, art, a fountain and outdoor performance space open to the public.
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