The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History opens in 2015, but Tavis Smiley’s I Am America travelling exhibit is available now. Smiley is known for his duties as a radio and television host, but the exhibit is his pride and joy.
America I AM: The African American Imprint opens in Charlotte Saturday at the Harvey B. Gantt Center. It will remain here until January 1, 2013. It contains 300 artifacts and is large enough to fill the 25,000 square feet Atlanta Civic. The Charlotte stop will be about half that size, but will contain popular pieces such as The Doors of No Return and Prince’s “Purple Rain” guitar.
“It is the biggest baddest boldest exhibit ever to tell the story of the contributions that we’ve made in the country,” said Smiley, with the bluster of a proud parent. “There’s been no exhibit this compelling or this comprehensive.”
The exhibit covers African American contributions in inventions, science to theater arts, music, culture, business, politics and social movements. Artifacts, most of which were loaned to Smiley for the exhibit, include items luminaries such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.