In 1994 a small group from Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids shared one common goal, and that was to preserve African American heritage in Iowa, so they formed the African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI) in celebration of Black History Month. That year, the African American Heritage Foundation, Inc. was chartered in Iowa as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Just four years later, the Foundation hired its first full-time employee, Joseph McGill, who took over as Executive Director. In May 2003, a man by the name of Thomas Moore took Joseph McGill’s place as the interim Executive Director for the AAMI; the title of interim was dropped in November as McGill became the new Executive Director full-time.
The next year brought the creation of an endowment fund of a sizeable amount that accelerated the museum to newer heights, and with that endowment came the new Africa permanent exhibit; visitors of the museum start in West Africa, pass through the “Door of No Return” and enter into a slave ship to experience the famous Middle Passage from Africa to the United States of America.
The African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI), nestled along the Cedar River near downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has been a success at carrying out its mission since the beginning by preserving, publicizing, and educating the public on African American heritage and culture in Iowa. Due to a strong commitment and passion of African American heritage this museum is the leading educational resource for African American history in Iowa.
In 2011, the AAMI served over 52,000 people with invaluable information; offered numerous tours, special events, and summer camp; the African American Museum of Iowa even offers educational programming for all ages, and much more! See for yourself! Start by scheduling a tour here!