Joe Riley teaching Citadel course on Intl. African American Museum

Mayor Joe Riley (File/WCIV)

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is teaching a new course for the spring semester at The Citadel.

The course is called The Why and the How: The Making of the International African American Museum. Every class in the course is open to the public.

“I’m honored to be with the young cadets with whom I’m with every week,” Riley said. “I’m so impressed with their intellect and their bearing and interest.”

Tuesday’s course is the fifth out of 11 courses. It’s scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at The Citadel’s Holliday Alumni Center, and will also be live streamed on The Citadel’s Facebook page.

From examining old South Carolina school textbooks that distorted the subject of slavery, to presentations by guests who lived through what Riley refers to as the under-told stories of African American experiences, all facets of the course center on what will be presented in the future International African American Museum (IAAM) as well as the making of the museum itself.

“My hope is this is a history we don’t know,” Riley added. “But it’s a history of trial and tribulation and difficulty, and also a story of courage, perseverance, and human achievement. That’s the ultimate lesson in all of this.”

Riley was instrumental in launching the effort to raise funds for the IAAM in in 2000. The museum is projected to open in 2020 near the Maritime Center at what was called Gadsden's Wharf. More enslaved Africans were brought to and sold at Gadsden's Wharf than any other place in North America.

Tuesday’s lecture is titled The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the modern African American freedom struggle. It features Cleveland Sellers, Ph.D., who was shot during the Orangeburg Massacre.

“I think its inspiring to all of us that we too can make a difference, and for young people with hopefully a long life ahead of them to be reminded they can and they should. It’s a great opportunity in life to make a difference,” Riley said.

Members of the community wishing to attend a class or wanting more information should email Christina Mortti at

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