Photo courtesy of International African American Museum

CHARLESTON, S.C.— The International African American Museum (IAAM) will host the Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., as a special exhibition and as a component part of the grand opening of the museum. 

The exhibition from the Smithsonian Museum presents the history of a nation through the lens of significant and iconic African American men in a historical and cultural landscape. The Ford Motor Company Fund and local sponsor, Bank of America, have made it possible to bring the exhibit to Charleston.

To coincide with the Men of Change exhibit, IAAM will host The Path Forward, a program series weaving together community impact and addressing the three pillars of power, triumph, and truth. 

Available for viewing from June 27 – August 6, the Men of Change exhibit will offer new generations notable stories of significant African American men, known and unknown leaders, who have or will stand as national icons.

“We’re excited to open IAAM’s doors to not only showcase the incredible breadth of African American history, but to amplify critical pieces of artistic storytelling,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the International African American Museum. “This exhibit will undoubtedly provoke a sense of renewed curiosity and self-reflection. These ‘men of change’ were among those thoughtful enough to engage in authentic stories of history, politics, art, culture, and activism. That’s exactly what these twenty-five contemporary artists have helped to create in this exhibit we’re proud to host, all the more as we launch.”

Created by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Men of Change is made possible through the support of the Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford. “Ford and the Smithsonian have a shared commitment to honoring people and achievements that reflect America’s diverse culture,” said Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund. “Ford Fund is proud to bring Men of Change to Charleston to help showcase the legacies of African American men who have changed the world for the better.”

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 70 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work, and play. Bank of America is the local sponsor of the exhibition. For more information about exhibition descriptions and tour schedules, visit

“We hope that by experiencing Men of Change, visitors will see a lesson for us all, regardless of gender, race, or nationality,” said Myriam Springuel, director of SITES and Smithsonian Affiliations. “In these men we see an absolute ideal and a well of inspiration that encourages us to become our best selves.”

Recognizing the importance of local organizations that uplift and create positive change within the community, IAAM, in collaboration with Ford Motor Company Fund, will support a non-profit organization in the Charleston Tri-County Area (Charleston, North Charleston, and Summerville) with a donation of up to $25,000.

Through the #HaveYouSeenThem social media campaign, IAAM and Ford Fund are seeking recommendations of local non-profits to support their continued work in the community. To be eligible, the recommended non-profit organization must have evidence of significant and lasting impact through their services and a primary focus on improving the lives of and creating safe spaces of belonging for African American boys and men. Recommendations will be accepted through June 28, 2023 and should be submitted at Grant award recipients will be announced on July 8, 2023.

To extend the reach of the Men of Change: Power. Triumph. Truth., several events have been scheduled to engage and interact with the community in conversations exploring the history and relevance of these men and the significance of their stories. They are:

POWER: “Owning Our Story: The Power Behind the Black Identity”

July 8, 9:00am ET

Sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, IAAM will celebrate the Men of Change exhibition through hosting a special reception for adults to explore how the identity and societal perspective of African American men has changed over time and the power we all hold in creating positive change within our community. 

TRIUMPH: “re-CREATE: Constructing A Space for Wellness & Triumph Through Art

July 15, 6:00pm – 7:30pm ET

July 16, 6:00pm – 7:30pm ET

To re-create is to create again or form anew in the imagination, the act of taking individual information or concepts and intertwining them together to form a new level of understanding. In collaboration with Hand Made Dreams, IAAM will host two workshops that explore art as a safe space, providing an introspective experience that leverages art to support positive mental health, generate conversation, and shift perspectives toward celebrating personal triumph over tragedy.

TRUTH: “We See the Path: Fatherhood, Community & Truth in the Black Experience

August 5, 6:00pm – 9:00pm ET

For African Americans, community has always extended beyond the neighborhoods or immediate surroundings where one lives or was raised. Similarly, fatherhood and its opportunities for mentorship, protection, and knowledge-transfer have and will continue to exist outside of traditional familial connections. This day will feature an opportunity for adults to learn from and delve deeper into conversations on fatherhood and community, while drawing knowledge from our shared experiences. Led by Cuts and Conversations, the program also features a private session for men focused on creating a brave space to explore relationships, negative and positive stigma, and similar truths within the experiences of Black men.

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