CHARLESTON, S.C. — Michelin North America Inc. has agreed to work with the International African American Museum to develop an exhibition focused on "freedom in the age of mobility," which will consider mental, emotional and spiritual voyages as well as physical travel.
"This partnership supports Michelin's efforts to recognize the legacy of those whose movements have not been always free and to teach the value of being 'free to move' in all spheres of life," William McMillian, executive sponsor of the African American Network for Michelin North America, said.
The initiative — which comes eight months after Michelin adopted a diversity-awareness plan of action in the wake of events that fueled #BlackLivesMatter protests across the nation in 2020 — will include funding to support making the exhibition a traveling exhibit, the museum's first, after its premiere at the museum in Charleston as well as creating curriculum for K-12 students based on the exhibit.
"From voyages such as the Underground Railroad, the Great Migration, and Afrofuturism, African American people and culture have been in near constant motion," Elijah Heyward III, chief operating officer of the International African American Museum, said.
"Throughout these historical journeys, there has always been another kind of travel: a mental, emotional and spiritual voyage, in which African Americans have envisioned and pursued a time and place where the journey ends, and true freedom becomes a reality."
Mr. McMillian added: "We hope the exhibit will start conversations around a central question — 'If you are not free to move, are you fully free?' — that builds bridges in our communities."
As part of the partnership, a group of Michelin employees will have the opportunity to explore their genealogy through the museum's Center for Family History. This program is dedicated to helping individuals and families advance their understanding of their family's history and the role their ancestors played in shaping American history.
The new museum is scheduled to open in summer 2022 in Charleston, a city at the center of the African slave trade between 1783 and 1808. The IAAM is designed to be a living and interactive place that will offer visitors of all ages the opportunity to learn about an essential part of American history, and to discover in particular how this African American population impacted the creation of the country.
The highlight of the project is a Center for Family History, where visitors interested in exploring their origins will be able to research about their ancestors from Africa, by using advanced technology to facilitate genealogical research.
The organizations have agreed not to disclose financial terms for the exhibit.