Tavis Smiley is showing everyone how Black history has shaped American history in his newest project.
America I AM: The African American Imprint, an exhibit sponsored by Wal-Mart, debuted at The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on January 15.
“This exhibition essentially tells the role that African Americans have played to make real the promise of American democracy,” Tavis said in a statement. “Given its historic role in America’s back story, there is no better place to premiere this exhibit than the city of Philadelphia.”
Artifacts, pictures, music and texts are all being used in the expansive 12-gallery exhibit, but the crown jewel is a collection of video messages: These “imprints” feature thousands of people from all over the country, making it the largest recorded oral history project in the U.S.
Visitors will be able to see things like the typewriter Alex Haley used to write Roots, personal effects that had belonged to Malcolm X, and doors to the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana that Africans passed through to board slave ships (otherwise known as the Doors of No Return).
The exhibit will be on display at the National Constitution Center until May 3 before embarking on a four-year museum tour. For more information, visit www.AmericaIAM.org.
– Sonya Eskridge