The Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum in Orangeburg, featuring the South Carolina events that changed America, is open for visitors and tours.
The futuristic, minimalistic-styled facility displays 35 historically significant exhibits consisting of 500 photographs and more than 200 artifacts, said Cecil Williams, founder of the first museum in the state which places emphasis on the era of racial transformation. “This facility is a living museum which preserves our journey; especially, during the second half of the 20th Century,” said Williams. “And, that’s just to start,” he added.
“After lengthy preparation, I want to officially invite the public to visit our exclusive and permanent civil rights movement era exhibits,” said William, who is also an award-winning photographer and author of four books. The museum, created through virtually his one-man obsession to honor and uplift Palmetto State natives who participated in the civil right movement, offers the largest display of civil rights images available anywhere, according to Williams. “Thousands of people sacrificed, marched, went to jail–and even died. From Briggs versus Elliot through our struggles today, this is pioneering history worthy of being preserved.”
“Located in Orangeburg on a 2-acre site right off U.S. Highway 301, hopefully, the entire 3,000 sq. foot space will become an exciting cultural destination, on local, national and international levels,” stated Williams.
“Cecil Williams has been recording events in South Carolina since his childhood, stated Janie Harriott, executive director of the South Carolina African American Heritage Commission. “This new museum chronicles events in South Carolina and will let the world know how important this state has been in the evolution of this country. I am elated to see this exciting edition to the story of South Carolina.”
The Cecil Williams Civil Rights Museum consist of eight major exhibit arenas, such as; The Matthew Perry Media Center, named in honor of the late U.S. District Judge, the Martin Luther King Pavilion, in honor of the Civil Rights Movement icon; a commemoration gallery in honor of the heroes of the Orangeburg Massacre, and several areas awaiting naming opportunities. During the next 24 months, the museum will continue to research and create new new civil rights movement era exhibits.
In addition to exhibition galleries and exterior sculpture pavilion, the museum contains numerous interactive galleries; an 800 name recognition wall, a civil rights movement timeline, a commitment sign-in wall, community meeting room, 200-book library, 50-seat media/presentation center, a digitization laboratory, donor wall, gift shop, and Cuisine Pass (snack area).
Admittance fee is $20. Initially, in the first six months, hours of operation are limited and appointments must be made in advance for guided tours. Appointments may be arranged by calling 803-531-1662 or online at cecilwilliamsmuseum.com. “I am seeking volunteers to assist with the everyday activities,” stated Williams. “And, I desperately need assistance from everyone to support this effort.” The museum is a 501 (c)(3) corporation.