The highly-anticipated International African American Museum opened its doors over the summer, marking an incredible achievement for all involved and a valuable addition to Charleston’s cultural core. Many are aware of the commitment it took to create this seminal institution, and of the importance of its physical location on Gadsden’s Wharf—a once-prolific port where scores of enslaved people passed through—but the museum’s full origin story is a little less well-known. To offer insight, SCETV’s Thelisha Eaddy will host IAAM’s President and CEO, Dr. Tonya Matthews, Wilbur E. Johnson and Robert Macdonald for a discussion on the carefully planning and thoughtful intent that brought the museum to life at last.
Tickets are $10 for members, $15 for the public.
About the Panelists:
Dr. Tonya Matthews:
A non-profit executive veteran, Dr. Matthews is currently President and Chief Executive Officer of the International African American Museum (IAAM) located in Charleston, SC. Under Dr. Matthews’ leadership, IAAM has become a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of African American history and thus is one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism. Dr. Matthews’ storied career includes her role as Associate Provost for Inclusive Workforce Development & Director of the STEM Innovation Learning Center at Wayne State University and, prior to that, as the President & CEO of the Michigan Science Center. Dr. Matthews’ dedication to community and accomplishments are widely recognized. She has been noted as one of the Charleston’s Most Influential by Charleston Business Magazine twice and honored as Trailblazer by Career Mastered Magazine (2017). She is a former member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Science Education and was appointed by both Democratic and Republican administrations to the National Assessment Governing Board. Dr. Matthews received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S.E. in biomedical and electrical engineering from Duke University, alongside a certificate in African/African American Studies. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and The Links, Inc. Dr. Matthews is a native of Washington, D.C. and – in each community she has settled – is known for planting roots on the side of town best for keeping an eye on progress.
Wilbur E. Johnson:
Wilbur E. Johnson is an attorney and has served as Managing Partner of Young Clement Rivers, LLP, a law firm based in Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Johnson is affiliated with various professional organizations. He is a past member of the SC Bar House of Delegates and the SC Bar Nominating Committee. He is also a permanent member of the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference and holds memberships in the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel, the International Association of Defense Counsel and the American Bar Foundation. He is listed in the “Best Lawyers in America” publication. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the Charleston School of Law. Mr. Johnson is actively involved in civic and charitable affairs in the community. Currently, he serves as a Board member of several organizations, including the Historic Charleston Foundation, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Chair Emeritus of the New Morning Foundation and the International African American Museum Board of Trustees. Mr. Johnson is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve, Richmond Bank Board of Directors.
Robert R. Macdonald, Director Emeritus, Museum of the City of New York, Vice Chair Emeritus, South Carolina Aquarium. Forty-six years experience as a museum director in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Louisianan, and New York. Macdonald began his career at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. He attained undergraduate and graduate degrees in history from Notre Dame and a graduate degree in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. He is an Associate Fellow at Berkeley College, Yale University, a past President, American Alliance of Museums; Chevalier de L’Order des Arts et des Letters; Cruz de Caballero de la Order de Isabel la Catolica; Award of Distinction, American Association of Museums. Macdonald is a consultant to museums in the United States and abroad, including Charleston’s International African American Museum. Bob and his wife Cathy moved to Mt. Pleasant in 2002. They have three adult children and three grandchildren.
Thelisha Eaddy is the local host of South Carolina Public Radio’s Morning Edition, a national news program produced and distributed by National Public Radio (NPR). Eaddy was recently featured as the first African-American woman to serve in that position.
Eaddy joined SC Public Radio’s team of reporters in 2015 to cover the long- term recovery of the historic flood in Columbia. Since that time, she has continued covering top news stories for the network. In addition to her on-air reporting, Eaddy can be seen on other South Carolina ETV programming, reporting live coverage of elections and providing analysis during Governor Inaugurations, moderating debates, and hosting the program Palmetto Perspectives. In 2019, Eaddy also produced The Road We Trod, a one-hour special on South Carolina's Historically Black Colleges and Universities and their impact on history and the economy. A native of the South Carolina Lowcountry, Eaddy’s first broadcast job was in her hometown of Saint Stephen. She studied at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and learned valuable behind-the-scenes radio and TV broadcasting skills at Trident Technical College in Charleston. Eaddy is an award-winning, multimedia journalist, receiving the 2009 South Carolina Broadcasters Association Radio Reporter of the Year award and several Radio Television Digital.