An South Carolina-born executive with the international media conglomerate Viacom has pledged $250,000 to support the planned International African American Museum, it was announced Tuesday.
Marva Smalls has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of South Carolina and is a museum board member.
Smalls is Viacom's executive vice president of public affairs and global inclusion strategy. She is also chief of staff for the Nickelodeon Group, directing all pro-social and corporate responsibility initiatives.
"This is a unique opportunity to give back to my home state," Smalls said in a written statement. "Now, more than ever, the history and culture embodied by the site of Gadsden’s Wharf, where the IAAM will be built, needs to be illuminated. We will elevate the African American narrative and recognize the hundreds of thousands who disembarked on this sacred ground.”
Previously, she has supported the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina with an endowment and donated $1 million to USC’s Ronald McNair Center for engineering scholarships for minority students.
"Marva’s myriad accomplishments have brought so much pride to the state of South Carolina," former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, a museum board member, said in a statement. "She has wisely chosen worthy organizations to support and collaborate with, and the IAAM is honored to be counted among them."
Her gift moves the fund-raising goal for the museum to less than $5 million. Construction near the city's Maritime Center on Concord Street is expected to start this summer.