Malika N. Pryor-Martin has joined the International African American Museum (IAAM) as chief learning and engagement officer. In this role, Pryor will provide strategic direction for creating museum programs and community engagement events – including K-12 school programs and curriculum, programming, and partnerships that support the museum’s faith-based initiatives, workshops, and engagements through the Center for Family History – at local, regional, and national levels.
The museum’s learning and engagement division is core to the activation of IAAM’s mission to honor the untold stories of the African American journey through the interpretation of nine museum galleries and the African Ancestors Memorial Garden, including education about crucial contributions Africans and African Americans have made to our history, examination of the transatlantic slave trade and the Middle Passage, and exploration of African communities that would later spread across the African Diaspora.
“Malika is an exceptional addition to our museum’s team. She brings experience working with organizations – that have been built from the ground up – and a keen eye to help build our learning and engagement department and programs,” notes Dr. Tonya M. Matthews, president and CEO of the museum. “We’re particularly excited about her record of partnering with educators to create impactful K-12 programs, and about her experiences in the international African-diasporic museum context as we build our international partnerships. Her passion for our mission and her leadership will be a critical spark as the museum continues to enlighten and inspire our communities with stories, culture, and history of the African American journey.”
Pryor-Martin brings over 16 years of experience in cultural arts and nonprofit to the museum. She has extensive experience with cultivating departmental growth. In 2017, she joined the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas as deputy and lead of the Communications-Education Department. From national traveling exhibitions to interdisciplinary digital education series, Pryor-Martin has created and led a diverse and innovative body of programs that have served multiple audiences. As the deputy and communications development officer for the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, she was heavily instrumental in establishing and organizing the Communications-Education Department. Through her leadership she directed and managed curation and coordination of digital, television, and radio content, which significantly increased overall engagement.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, she was shaped by many of the city’s community and cultural arts institutions, and her education and work experience reflect that. In her most recent role as senior director of education and programs at the Detroit Historical Society, she spearheaded Invoking the Spirit: Detroit’s Black Bottom—a dynamic, self-directed walking tour of Detroit’s historic Black Bottom neighborhood, told through the lens of former residents, and their descendants, who were displaced in the late 1950s up through the early 1960s to make way for the construction of an interstate highway.
Pryor-Martin received her Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Studies and Afro-American & African Studies from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor before going on to earn her Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State University Law School in Detroit.
“Sharing and interpreting millennial old stories while exploring contemporary, including speculative, narratives within an international African American context is soul work for me. It is the kind of work that naturally inspires dynamic outcomes because it’s nurtured by personal conviction and a lifelong passion for Black cultural representation,” Pryor-Martin commented.
She went on to add, “Soul work is complex and tough. The design of innovative experiences that make a lasting impact and build in-depth relationships with local, natural, and international audiences is not easy. Now, more than ever, I am ready and willing to lean into the challenge to thrive, serve, and deliver for IAAM.”
Pryor-Martin’s journey has been full of diverse paths that led her to her passion. In 2010, she served as director of education and programs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. During that time, she was inspired to help black and indigenous entrepreneurs, whereby she opened a boutique non-profit consulting firm providing a body of services to emerging community-based initiatives with a special emphasis on BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) founders.
As a member of the executive leadership team, Pryor-Martin will work closely with the CEO to establish partnerships and programs that help support and sustain the museum’s mission and goal of stewarding critical conversations and authentic history that move communities toward equity and reconciliation.
The International African American Museum (IAAM) is home to the African Ancestors Memorial Garden, the Center for Family History genealogy research library, nine core galleries, and special exhibitions space. The museum explores the African American journey through transformational storytelling of the achievements of African Americans in national and international contexts, exhibiting how the ingenuity, labor, resistance, and culture of a people have shaped every aspect of our world. Located in Charleston, S.C., the museum has reclaimed the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf, one of America’s most prolific slave-trading ports.
The International African American Museum is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history and is thus one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. Set to open in early 2023, IAAM’s mission is to honor the untold stories of the African American journey at one of our nation’s most sacred sites. The museum is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org or call 843-872-5352.