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Columbia Business Monthly

The Business Narrative: Follow the North Star

Mar 29, 2024 09:42AM ● By Donna Walker

International African American Museum to Host World Premiere of Traveling Exhibition

(Image provided. “The Negro Motorist Green Book: 1947” from The New York Public Library Digital Collections.) 


The International African American Museum (IAAM) in Charleston, South Carolina, will host the world premiere of a special exhibition highlighting the African American search for freedom and self-determination.


Entitled Follow the North Star: Freedom in the Age of Mobility, it is the first to be curated and crafted by IAAM that is designed to travel to other museums around the country, introducing them to historical events leading to African American liberation.


The exhibition will be on display from May 23 through Nov. 3, 2024.


Inspired by the call to “follow the North Star” to freedom and self-determination, Follow the North Star: Freedom in the Age of Mobility tells the stories of those who forged new paths, paving the way for others.


The multi-media exploration follows the multifaceted journey of African American liberation through movement. 


The exhibition was made possible through a $1 million gift from Greenville, South Carolina-based Michelin North America, Inc.


In addition, the Michelin Corporate Foundation was one of the museum’s founding donors, with a philanthropic investment to launch and support the International African American Museum.


While Michelin serves as presenting sponsor of Follow the North Star, IAAM’s first traveling exhibition, additional funding was provided by the Mellon Foundation.


“Michelin is proud to partner with the International African American Museum in Charleston, which opened last June. Our partnership reflects one of our core values -- Respect for People -- and supports our desire to educate, inform and inspire about the history and heritage of the African American communities. More specifically, it celebrates the theme of being free to move. Our sponsorship of this new exhibit illuminates that goal,” said Alexis Garcin, president and CEO of Michelin North America, Inc.


He added, “Through this partnership, a group of Michelin employees worked with the museum's Center for Family History to research their genealogy; helping to connect the past and present, moving forward together, as per the purpose of our company.”


Through the lens of historical events related to the African American search for freedom and lesser-known forms of escape, including folklore, storytelling, and metaphysical travel, visitors will explore this exhibition from three perspectives: Transportation, The Great Migration, and Spirituality/Imagination.


Whether relocating out West to be a cowboy, creating art in the Harlem Renaissance, or leaving the United States entirely, African Americans have historically transformed their daily lived realities in different ways.


The journey toward freedom, a highly pursued and often elusive destination, has taken many forms, from recurring Back-to-Africa Movements to the famed Montgomery Bus Boycotts to Afrofuturist visions of other worlds.


In all, the African American journey is complex and full of possibility and agency no matter where it leads.


“As people of the African Diaspora, our journey can be viewed as a single continuous trek towards ‘freedom.’ Despite the consistent march in its direction, however, ‘freedom’ has remained an unreachable location. Follow the North Star: Freedom in the Age of Mobility, explores this dichotomy," said James Bartlett, curator at IAAM.


Bartlett added, "How has the concept of ‘freedom’ remained an eternally compelling beacon, while simultaneously proving to be an utterly elusive destination? How can a place we may never reach also serve as a steadfast guide? We have unquestionably covered immense distance on this journey as a people. Yet, at times, ‘freedom’ can feel as far away as ever.” 


An opening reception will be held Wednesday, May 22, celebrating the world premiere of the traveling exhibition. Guests can register for the opening reception here. There will also be a Curator Talk on Thursday, Aug. 8.


“It’s a remarkable feat to plan and produce a traveling exhibition within our first year of opening, but that’s exactly what we’ve done with Follow the North Star, which will offer a microcosm of the IAAM experience everywhere this very special exhibition travels," said Malika Pryor, chief learning and engagement officer at IAAM.


Pryor added, "It’s the marriage of lesser told stories paired with immersive art, powerful artifacts, and technology that humanizes and elevates the narrative guiding you through a moving journey much like our forefathers may have witnessed.” 


The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores the history, culture, and impact of the African American journey on Charleston, the nation, and the world, shining light and sharing stories of the diverse journeys, origin, and achievements of descendants of the African Diaspora.


Across 11 galleries and a memorial garden with art, objects, artifacts, and multi-media interaction, IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history.


As a result, officials said the museum will stand as one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. 


For more information, go to or call 843-872-5352.

Hampton Wildlife Fund Donates $195,800 to SCDNR for Conservation Projects

The Hampton Wildlife Fund has presented the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) with a check for $195,800 to be used for state-wide projects during 2024.


The total donated to SCDNR by the Hampton Wildlife Fund over the years now stands at $4,574,970.


The Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund Inc. (Hampton Wildlife Fund) is a private, nonprofit corporation which partners with SCDNR for the promotion of natural resources and natural resource education, which benefits the conservation of wildlife, marine and other resources in South Carolina.


Funds are obtained solely through private donations and special promotional projects and fundraising events.


Although some of the funds are donated to special projects run by SCDNR, they aren’t used to replace any of the department’s programs already supported by state-appropriated money.


“Our mission is to raise dollars in support of SCDNR, the stewards of South Carolina’s vast wildlife and natural resources and to be a partner in the agency’s educational efforts,” said Hampton Wildlife Fund Board Chair Alvin Taylor, who is a former director of SCDNR.


“We are committed to providing SCDNR with funding for Palmetto State citizen programs, especially youth programs,” said Hampton Wildlife Fund Executive Director Jim Goller of Beaufort and a DNR retiree.


Public education of wildlife and marine resources management and conservation is a major thrust of the fund’s purpose.


Scholarships are annually awarded to South Carolina resident students who attend South Carolina institutions of higher learning majoring in wildlife, fisheries, forestry, biology, zoology, marine science, environmental science or related fields, with one awarded annually in the field of law enforcement/criminal justice and one in the field of journalism.


Since 1995, The Hampton Wildlife Fund has awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships to South Carolina students.


Projects supported and funded by the Hampton Wildlife Fund include:

* Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic.

* Sassafras Mountain Overlook project.

* SCDNR shotgun and archery shooting sports in schools’ programs.

* Operation Game Thief.

* Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs youth fishing rodeos.

* Take One Make One youth mentoring program.

* Aquatic Education Program, Carolina Coastal Marine Education Program and Educational Vessel Discovery.

* Tiger shark research and tagging in Port Royal, St. Helena sounds.

* SCDNR Land, Water and Conservation Envirothon.

* Camp Wildwood.

* Bruce Rush Artificial Reef and the S.C. Memorial Deepwater Reef Project.

* Bruce Rush Pavilion and Youth Archery Range, Anne Springs Close Greenway.

* Hampton Wildlife Fund Adventure Center, Anne Springs Close Greenway.


Find out more about the Hampton Wildlife Fund by going to or on Facebook at

U-Pick Strawberry Season Kicks Off Spring Agritourism Activities in South Carolina

Across South Carolina, U-pick strawberry farms are preparing to welcome visitors onto their farms to fill their buckets with sweet, sun-ripe, bright red strawberries.


Strawberries are among the earliest widely available spring crops in the state. Many strawberry farms are already open for U-pick activities, while others plan to open in the next week or two.


As the season unfolds, other farms around the state will offer U-pick blueberries and blackberries. Other U-pick offerings include lavender, sunflowers, muscadine grapes and pumpkins.


U-pick farms are part of the state’s rapidly growing agritourism industry. Officials say agritourism not only educates the public about farming and encourages healthy outdoor fun, but it can support farmers by helping them diversify their income.


Newly released Census of Agriculture shows that between 2017 and 2022, farm income from agritourism in South Carolina grew from $6.2 million to $14 million.


If you’d rather buy farm-fresh South Carolina strawberries without doing the picking yourself, go to to find farms in your area, or just look for the Certified SC Grown label where you shop.

Bank of South Carolina Corporation Declares Dividend

The board of directors of Bank of South Carolina Corporation, (OTCQX: BKSC) the parent company for The Bank of South Carolina, declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.17 per share to shareholders of record April 9, 2024, payable April 30, 2024. This represents the 138th quarterly cash dividend paid to shareholders.


The Bank of South Carolina Corporation is the holding company of The Bank of South Carolina.


The bank is a South Carolina state-chartered financial institution with offices in Charleston, North Charleston, Summerville, Mt. Pleasant, James Island, and the West Ashley community and has been in continuous operation since 1987.

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