The ex-wife of boxing legend Muhammad Ali reportedly has not fulfilled a promise to donate $1 million to an African-American museum in Texas, with the socialite expressing that “she doesn’t have the funds” she promised the Tyler African American Museum in Tyler.
That’s according to officials at the Empowerment Community Development Corporation, where the museum is housed.
It has been almost a year since Dr. Khalilah Camacho Ali pledged seven figures to the museum during the cultural institution’s inaugural fundraising gala in 2022. However, 11 months later, she has not honored her offer, placing the organization back in a position to fundraise for the basic upkeep and operations of the building, KTRE-TV reports.
Video shows exuberant expressions of gratitude when Ali, one of the speakers at the occasion, said, “And all I can say is before I make my speech, I am actually going to donate $1 million to the Texas African American Museum.”
“I’m here to express the fact that we need to know our history. We do not have a future without it. We don’t live in the past, but we learn from the past,” she continued at the time, before adding how “very important” it is to have stories about Black history preserved.
The museum’s fundraising goal for the gala reportedly was $100,000.
“I jumped up, I just shouted and thanked God for this blessing to the Texas African-American Museum,” Gloria Washington, the executive director for the TAAM.
Now, according to Washington, multiple efforts have been made to retrieve the donation, “but she still has not come through with her promise of one million dollars.” She added, “She did not leave us $1 million, and she has not given us $1 million.”
Washington also shared that while the museum is “saddened that she didn’t come through with the promise that she made to us,” she is clear that things happen and things don’t always proceed as you would like.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, the Empowerment Community Development Corporation released an official statement on behalf of the 5,000-square-foot institution, saying the money was never received.
“The announcement by Dr. Ali was met with surprise and excitement by the board members and was an answer to prayer,” the ECDC said. “However, to this date, the promise has not been fulfilled,” calling the plight they have found themselves in a “problematic issue,” the Tyler Paper reports.
“After repeated contacts to Dr. Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the only feedback that she has given is that “she doesn’t have the funds,” the organization said in a statement.
With one-half of the building that holds hundreds of artifacts and archives having been restored and another half still needing work, museum officials are forging ahead.
“We need to put on a new roof, we need to purchase new artifacts, there’s a lot of things we could do with that money,” Washington said, saying she may be disappointed, but she is being encouraged to stay, being pushed by supporters many cannot see.
“This is like heaven away from home for me because I’m in here with all of our ancestors, and when I’m here, I feel like my ancestors are just telling me, ‘Keep going Gloria, keep going Gloria, it’s going to get better,'” Washington said.
ECDC is a nonprofit organization that oversees the museum; its board president launched a million-dollar campaign in 2020 to refurbish the Tyler Fire Station into a premium cultural campus to preserve the history and heritage of African-Americans. The organization stated the philanthropist’s promise, they believe, impacted the museum’s fundraising efforts significantly.
“The announcement by Dr. Khalilah Camacho-Ali went national, and many believe that we have received the funds, and this has caused a drop in our donations,” the statement said.
As a result, a new campaign is being launched, designed with a focus “more than ever on our goal and vision, which is to preserve and educate the public on African American History in Texas, throughout America, and international.”
While known as the boxer’s second wife (married from 1967 to 1976), making an appearance in the documentary “My Father Muhammad Ali,” Ali is also an award-winning author, actor and producer.
Washington takes none of that away from Ali, saying there are no hard feelings toward her. However, now she and her team are locked in to solicit funds to help them meet their goals.