Dr. Elijah Heyward III

Dr. Elijah Heyward III is the Chief Operating Officer for the International African American Museum being built in Charleston, South Carolina, and due to open in 2022. The museum is being built on the site of the historic Gadsen’s Wharf, where up to 40% of enslaved Africans brought to America against their will disembarked after the transatlantic journey.

“There is power in learning from the past…the mistakes, the triumphs and examples of inspiration and perseverance.”

-Dr. Elijah Heyward III
Dr. Elijah Heyward III interview

“Our mission is to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at one of our nation’s most sacred sites.

My colleagues and I feel honored to be a part of a cultural landscape that’s related to justice. The commitment to seeking justice through exposure to information and to the past.

In this moment there’s a broad coalition of people who all seem to be on board in a way that feels really exciting, but that doesn’t negate the need for difficult dialogue at times to offer proper contextualization but also hope that there is a roadmap to a path forward that we can all benefit from as a collective society.

I think hope is all we have. The fact that I am a descendant of people who were brought here against their will, had to figure out life in a new place that wasn’t welcoming…I am the fulfillment of that hope.”

Discussion questions:

-In his interview, Dr. Heyward says “History must be told where it happened.” Talk about a time you have experienced the power of a historic place.

-Are their ways you have fulfilled the hopes of your ancestors?

-Is there something about our current social unrest that makes it difficult to talk about the concept of peace?

-Are there examples in history when we have wrestled peace from the midst of turmoil?

-Who are the people who have inspired you?

-What are the untold stories we need to share?

-What do you know of your own descendants’ journey? And the struggles they may have faced?

-Where have you seen broad coalitions work together toward communal justice?

-When has history helped you grasp the current state of affairs?

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