Tech Is Helping Power Connections to African-American History
“I help good take over by inspiring hope through history, community engagement, and the invaluable promise of cultural institutions.” - Elijah Heyward, Chief Operating Officer, International African American Museum
Our largest single philanthropic contribution supports the International African American Museum, a project taking shape on the Charleston waterfront. Almost half of all enslaved West Africans entered in America through a single port: Charleston, South Carolina. The museum broke ground in October 2019 on the site of the primary point of arrival.
Q: We’re proud to have our CEO, Mike Gianoni, sit on your board of directors. What role does he play?
A: Having someone like Mike at the table is invaluable, given his business expertise and connections across the globe. Our board is made up of members who bring together a variety of backgrounds that will allow us to live up to the ideal of being a world-class institution.
Q: What’s the significance of support from the business community as you move toward groundbreaking?
A: It is important to have international brands and companies, such as Blackbaud, enthusiastically supporting our work. It signals to the business community and others that this is a project that they should stand behind. It also communicates that the International African American Museum is not a local institution, but an institution that has global influence and appeal. We would not be able to move forward without companies like Blackbaud supporting our capital campaign.
Q: How will technology impact your operations?
A: It’s important that every element of our institution speaks to the future and how we can connect to people— particularly youth. We want to make people feel that they are part of the narrative in ways that are tangible. For example, we are creating the pre-eminent Center for Family History so that people who are moved by the museum experience can find their personal strand of history to connect to the larger narrative. Technology drives that search for information and connections.
Q: What do you envision for the future of the International African American Museum?
A: By telling the story of the journey of hundreds of thousands of enslaved West Africans who entered our young nation in Charleston, South Carolina, endured hardship and cruelty, and then contributed so significantly to the greatness of America, we seek to honor the site where so many arrived and thousands died. We also want to tell stories of important lives overlooked in most history books and promote compassion and empathy across all races and ethnicities.