International African American Museum Opening Remarks

International African American Museum Opening Remarks

Remarks by Mayor John J. Tecklenburg

June 24, 2023

The following remarks were prepared for delivery by Mayor John J. Tecklenburg at the International African American Museum Grand Opening Community Celebration on June 24, 2023. 

Fellow Charlestonians, Honored Guests and Friends: 

I’m deeply honored to join you this morning in celebration of the International African American Museum, and of the long, tragic, but ultimately hopeful story it tells. For what could be more hopeful – more outrageously, unbelievably, unimaginably inspiring – than the story of a people who so loved the dream of America – the dream of a place on earth where all men are created equal, with God-given rights and the dignity of democracy – that they defiantly refused to stop dreaming that dream, even as it was being cruelly denied to them.

Friends, we stand here today in awe of that story, and in solidarity with the generations of African Americans who’ve lived it. African Americans who suffered the torture of slavery, the betrayal of Reconstruction, the terror of Jim Crow, the unfinished business of civil rights. African Americans who transformed that pain into excellence in every field of human endeavor – the arts, business, science and more. African Americans who faced down their oppressors with courage and dignity and grace – on city buses, at lunch counters, on a bridge in Selma, in a hospital in Charleston – and who, in so doing, rekindled the promise of America for men and women the world over.

Of course, we Charlestonians, black and white, know this story because it’s our story – every tragedy, every triumph, every lick of the lash, and every small, halting step toward progress. Those moments are our moments, our past and our present, etched in the details of every historic building and alive in the chambers of every human heart. That is why it is so fitting, and so vitally important, that we host the museum that tells that story here in Charleston, where it happened, and where we can all bear witness to the heartbreak and the hope that is its legacy.

In closing, I’d like to offer my deepest thanks to everyone who worked so hard to bring this magnificent new museum to life. Your tireless efforts over more than twenty years have made this day possible. And your extraordinary vision of a great building, in a great city, where people of every background can share and discover this deeply moving, deeply American story of a dream denied and deferred, but never forsaken, will inspire the world for generations to come.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the city of Charleston and all her people.