On May 10, 2023, the Riley Institute hosted an illuminating and inspiring event honoring and learning from the International African American Museum (IAAM). At the forum, several IAAM representatives and Charleston-area leaders spoke about the 23-year process of creating the museum, and former United States Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Governor Dick Riley presented the OneSouthCarolina Partners in Progress Award to the IAAM.

Event Details

  • May 10, 2023
  • 9 a.m-12 p.m.
  • Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, Columbia, S.C.

About The Winner

The International African American Museum (IAAM) sits on Gadsden’s Wharf, the exact place where so many captive Africans first set foot in America, and seeks to highlight stories of the African American journey since arriving there or at other ports in the Atlantic world. Their labor, resistance, and ingenuity and that of their descendants shaped every aspect of our world. The museum strives to foster empathy and understanding, empowering visitors with the knowledge of the past. As an effort that has been nearly 25 years in conception and creation involving myriad partners and voices, the museum will advance social justice and will serve as an economic driver for South Carolina and the Lowcountry. To learn more, visit https://iaamuseum.org/ and watch the video, produced by South Carolina ETV, below.

Forum Speakers


Beryl Dakers (moderator, panel 2) is South Carolina ETV’s director of special projects for content. Dakers began her career as the first African American on-air news reporter for WIS radio in the early 1970s. She was among the first African Americans to work as an on-air personality and producer for the TV arm of WIS. She would later take her talents to ETV, and she has distinguished herself as one of South Carolina’s most influential broadcasters and documentary filmmakers.


Thelisha Eaddy (moderator, panel 1) is a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and the first female African American host of the popular morning show in its 50-year history. Eaddy has been with SC Public Radio since 2015.


Walter Hood (via Zoom) is a renowned landscape architect who designed the International African American Museum’s African Ancestors Memorial Garden. Hood is the creative director and founder of Hood Design Studio in Oakland, CA. He is also a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and lectures on professional and theoretical projects nationally and internationally. He is a recipient of the 2017 Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Award, 2019 Knight Public Spaces Fellowship, 2019 MacArthur Fellowship, 2019 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, and the 2021 recipient of the Architectural League’s President’s Medal award.


Wilbur E. Johnson is the chairman of the board of directors of the International African American Museum in Charleston. He has served as chairman of the board since 2012 and has been a member of the board since 2007. As chairman, Johnson is the principal volunteer officer of the museum. Among other things, he is responsible for ensuring that museum operations are managed effectively and in accordance with established board policies. In addition, Johnson leads the board’s meetings and deliberations in its efforts to accomplish the museum’s mission and objectives. Johnson is an attorney and has served as the managing partner of Clement Rivers, LLP, a law firm based in Charleston, South Carolina, since 2009.


Dr. Tonya M. Matthews is president and CEO of the International African American Museum (IAAM) located in Charleston, South Carolina, at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf, one of our nation’s most prolific former slave ports. A thought-leader in inclusive frameworks, social entrepreneurship, and education, Matthews has written articles and book chapters across these varied subjects. She is founder of The STEMinista Project, a movement to engage girls in their future with STEM careers. Matthews is also a poet and is included in 100 Best African American Poems (2010) edited by Nikki Giovanni. Matthews received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S.E. in engineering from Duke University, alongside a certificate in African/African American Studies.


Malika N. Pryor-Martin, chief learning and engagement officer for the International African American Museum, provides strategic direction for creating and enhancing dynamic programs that explore the Middle Passage, the African diaspora, and the crucial contributions that African Americans have made to our history and to our modern world. As a member of the senior executive team, Pryor works closely with the CEO to establish partnerships and programs that help support and sustain the museum’s mission, including school programs, faith-based initiatives and programs, local and national public programs, and programs at the Center for Family History, a one-of-a-kind research center that focuses on African American genealogy.


John Tecklenburg is the current mayor of Charleston, South Carolina. Tecklenburg spent much of his career as a businessman and entrepreneur – a family legacy that began with the opening of his great-great-grandfather’s corner grocery store at St. Phillip and Wentworth streets in 1867. Mayor Tecklenburg founded Southern Oil Company in 1978, which he successfully owned and operated for nearly 20 years. Upon selling the business, he was appointed to serve as director of economic development for the City of Charleston, where he helped lead the revitalization of Upper King Street. Mayor Tecklenburg holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and also attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston where he pursued his lifelong passion for music and jazz.