April 12, 2010

America I AM: The African American Imprint

I truly appreciated Tavis Smiley back in the day when he was engaged in a series of forums branded as 'Blacks in Technology'. However, his recent tantrums against POTUS have caused me (and most of Black America) to be disappointed in Tavis.

However, even a person with questionable political antennae can do good things. I think that the creation of the America I AM museum exhibit is a positive addition to Tavis' resume.

This traveling museum exhibit celebrate nearly 500 years of African American contributions to the nation through artifacts, documents, multimedia, photos and music. In fact, some have called it 'the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of African American history ever created.'.

I am pleased to note that the America I AM exhibit is coming to the Cincinnati Museum Center in June 2010 for about 6-7 months. Cincinnati isn't your usual suspect for things that uplift Black culture ... however, when someone does good ... it should be acknowledged. Kudos to the leaders of the Cincinnati Museum Center for getting this exhibit to our town!

America I AM is a four-year touring exhibit that premiered in Philadelphia last year. It is currently in Los Angeles CA. The exhibit endeavors to bring together Americans of all cultures, ages, and backgrounds to celebrate and further understand the indelible African American imprint on this country.

The exhibit is HUGE ... containing twelve galleries encompassing over 15,000 square feet. It takes visitors through a journey that spans nearly five (5) centuries of American history ... there has never been a culture and history exhibition as complete and impactful.

My understanding is that Tavis Smiley used his brand and contacts to obtain over 250 rarely toured artifacts from over 70 contributors from across the globe. The exhibition will include the doors to the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana (Doors of No Return), Alex Haley’s typewriter used to write Roots, personal Koran of Malcolm X, the door key and stool from the Birmingham jail cell that held Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., sports memorabilia from Michael Jordan and Arthur Ashe, Muhammad Ali’s robe, a personal loan of Prince's guitar, and much more.

The Cincinnati Museum Center is going to take advantage of this national exhibit to present its internationally significant collection of J.P. Ball photographs -- the largest collection of his works in the world. For those villagers that don't know ... J.P. Ball was a free Black man who settled in Cincinnati in the mid-19th century. An entrepreneur, abolitionist and photographer, Ball was a careful observer and recorder of key transformations of his time.

Anyhow, I hope that the Cincinnati community -- of all races, but particularly African Americans -- support the America I AM exhibit when it gets here in a few weeks. This exhibit can have a positive impact on our community life -- from economics to self-image to youth and community development to social progress to spirituality.

Have you seen the America I Am exhibit yet? Do you plan to do so over the course of its 4-year run?


msladydeborah said...

This sounds like a reason for me to head down to the Natti in June!

Villager said...

Lady D - I think it will be worthwhile for all nubians in Southern Ohio to check it out when it comes to Cincinnati Museum Center...