Jerry Richardson, the former Carolina Panthers owner who sold the team amid accusations of workplace misconduct, and his wife Rosalind have donated $5 million to Charleston’s International African American Museum.
The museum is expected to open in 2021.
In a statement this week, museum officials said the Richardsons’ gift is the largest donation yet from individuals.
The Richardsons’ gift includes a $3 million endowment to pay for field trips for students who could not otherwise afford to visit the museum. More than 10,000 students from across the Carolinas and Georgia will be able to make the trip thanks to the Richardsons’ donation, museum officials estimated.
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The rest of the Richardsons’ gift includes $1 million for the construction of the museum and $1 million to support the development of the IAAM’s education curriculum, museum programs and outreach programs ahead of its opening.
Bids for the construction of the museum are being finalized, and groundbreaking is expected to take place within the next six months.
Jerry Richardson, who was awarded an NFL franchise in 1993, put the Panthers up for sale in December hours after Sports Illustrated published a story that detailed “significant” monetary settlements with at least four former Carolina Panthers employees as a result of inappropriate workplace comments and conduct by Richardson.
The misconduct included “sexually suggestive language and behavior, and on at least one occasion directing a racial slur at an African-American Panthers scout,” SI reported.
In June, the NFL fined Richardson a league-record $2.75 million after a months-long investigation substantiated the sexual and racial misconduct claims. In July, the $2.275 billion sale of the team, also a league record for a franchise, to billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper was finalized.
The International African American Museum will be built at Charleston’s Gadsden’s Wharf, the site where thousands of enslaved Africans forced to America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade disembarked. In the statement Thursday, Richardson said he and his wife are grateful to support the museum’s mission.
“America will be a better place the moment the IAAM opens its doors on this historic ground,” Richardson said.
He added that he and his wife think that “think it’s important for all Americans to understand and respect the contributions made by African Americans to our country’s development.”