The Texas African American Museum in Tyler has not received the $1 million pledged by Dr. Khalila Camacho-Ali, Muhammad Ali’s ex-wife, Empowerment Community Development Corporation said Tuesday.
Nearly a year ago, Camacho-Ali announced the donation in February 2022 at the first Texas African American Museum and Community Development Corporation Empowerment and Fundraising event.
“Dr. Ali’s announcement was greeted with surprise and excitement by board members and was the answer to prayer,” ECDC said in a press release Tuesday. “To date, however, the promise has not been kept.”
The ECDC press release said board members are “deeply sorry” to inform the public about this “troubled matter”.
“The announcement of Dr. Khalila Camacho-Ali has gone nationwide and many believe that we have received funds and this has led to a reduction in our donations,” ECDC said.
According to ECDC, the board had “repeated contact” with Camacho-Ali.
“… The only feedback she gave was that “she has no funds,” ECDC said.
Camacho-Ali did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
“We are saddened that she did not deliver on her promise to us,” said Gloria Washington, executive director of the Texas Museum of African Americans. “It’s very disappointing, but I know things happen and don’t always go the way you would like.”
Washington said there was no malice towards Camacho-Ali, but the public should be aware that the museum never received a significant amount of money that would go towards the museum’s new programs and renovation process.
“We want people to know that not a cent of that million dollars has been spent and we need to continue fundraising to continue our projects with the Texas African American Museum,” Washington said.
The Texas African American Museum is a program of ECDC, a non-profit organization based in Tyler. In November 2020, ECDC received a donation of Tyler’s previous fire station #4 on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. create the Texas African American Museum.
During this time, ECDC Board President Stanley Cofer announced a $1 million nonprofit campaign to raise funds to redevelop the 5,000-square-foot facility.
At the end of March, the museum was temporarily closed for renovations. It completed Phase 1 and reopened in August to feature $40,000 worth of upgrades.
However, the museum was counting on a donation from Camacho-Ali to complete its full renovation plan. Now that the board is aware of the issue, it is resuming its capital campaign to continue raising funds to complete the renovations.
“We are more focused than ever on our purpose and vision, which is to preserve and educate the public about the history of African Americans in Texas, across America, and domestically,” the ECDC said in a statement.
Washington said community support is needed now more than ever.
“It is very important that the community unites with us,” Washington said. “We’re trying to promote and develop a high quality museum here in Tyler, Texas, and it’s important that you all make a donation.”
Washington said big or small, every penny counts.
For more information or to make a donation, visit www.texasafricanamericanmuseum.org.