The Mitchelville Preservation Project, a nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public about the first self-governed settlement for freed slaves in the United States, has hired a new executive director, according to a news release.
As executive director, Ahmad Ward, a native of Elizabeth City, N.C., will develop content for local schools, develop a master plan and business plan for the operation of the Hilton Head Island site, and raise funds for the reconstruction of the original Mitchelville school/church to have a space to “inspire schoolchildren,” the release said.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to lead the Mitchelville Preservation Project as we endeavor to share the Mitchelville story, not just locally, but throughout the nation,” Ward said in the release. “Mitchelville reminds us of the resilience of African-Americans during some of our nation’s darkest days. It is also more than that — Mitchelville is an American story, tethered to the core tenets of American citizenship and what it means to be free.”
Previously, Ward served as vice president of education and exhibitions at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Elizabeth City State University and a master’s degree from Hampton University, the release said. He is a member of the Smithsonian Affiliates Advisory Board as well as the Jekyll Island Management Institute Selection Board.
The Mitchelville Preservation Project is in the process of recreating the historic site at Fish Haul Creek Park on Hilton Head’s north side. The Mitchelville Freedom Park will one day offer revolving exhibits, lectures, tours and cultural programs, according to the project’s website.