WASHINGTON (Sept. 29, 2010)—Beginning February 2011, Washington, D.C., will host “America I AM: The African American Imprint,” an award-winning touring exhibition conceived and presented by broadcaster Tavis Smiley that celebrates nearly 500 years of African American contributions to the United States. The showing at the National Geographic Museum, launching Feb. 2, 2011, during Black History Month and continuing through May 1, 2011, will be the fifth stop on the exhibition’s 10-city, four-year tour.
“America I AM” presents pivotal moments in courage, conviction and creativity that celebrate the undeniable imprint of African Americans on the United States. Through more than 200 rare historic objects, documents, photographs and multimedia, visitors can explore how African Americans have contributed to and shaped America across four core areas: economic, socio-political, cultural and spiritual. The exhibition features important events and people from the beginnings of the nation through the present-day inauguration of the first African American president of the United States. Tickets are on sale at www.ngmuseum.orgor (202) 857-7700.
“America I AM: The African American Imprint encourages all people to connect in a meaningful way with the foundations of democracy, cultural diversity, exploration and free enterprise, which began when the first Africans arrived in Jamestown,” said presenter Tavis Smiley. “By telling the stories of the events of the past, we can help the leaders of the future set the stage for active participation in the democratic process for years to come.”
“We are pleased to host this exhibition highlighting the contributions of African Americans and furthering a dialogue about our collective experience,” said Susan Norton, director of the National Geographic Museum. “We look forward to sharing the stories — some familiar, some surprising — of the influential African Americans featured in the exhibition. Our hope is that visitors leave with a richer understanding of the culture and history of the United States.”
America I AM: The African American Imprint is developed in partnership with Tavis Smiley and is organized by Cincinnati Museum Center and Arts and Exhibitions International (AEI), a division of AEG Live.
Exhibition organizers worked with some of the most notable scholars in the field to develop America I AM, one of the broadest exhibitions on this subject ever mounted. Among others, advisory panel members include Lawrence J. Pijeaux Jr., president and CEO of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and former president of the Association of African American Museums; Cornel West, professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University; and Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and American Research at Harvard University. John Fleming, past president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, serves as executive producer.
Filling approximately 12,000 square feet and both of the National Geographic Museum’s 17th Street galleries, America I AM conveys a journey from struggle to triumph. Visitors can view artifacts ranging from shackles used in the slave trade to abolitionist material and the poetry of Langston Hughes. Visitors can also explore innovative ideas from contemporary African American artists and inventors. An interactive area allows visitors to leave video “imprints” of their own experiences, a collection that continues to grow throughout the tour.
Among the rare artifacts included in the exhibition are “The Door of No Return” from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, which enslaved Africans passed through to board ships to the “New World”; the typewriter Alex Haley used to write the groundbreaking book “Roots”; Rosa Parks’ December 1955 arrest card; the key to the cell where Martin Luther King Jr. authored his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”; Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle” training robe; and Frederick Douglass’ clothing and a letter signed by President Lincoln that enabled him to travel freely.
America I AM is made possible by Walmart Stores Inc., which serves as its presenting sponsor. The exhibition’s educational partner is Northern Trust. Microsoft is the technology partner for the exhibition tour. Local sponsors include the Madison, a Loews Hotel, as the Official Hotel Partner and Amtrak.
“All of us at Walmart are honored to play a role in presenting an exhibit that honors the contributions that African Americans have made to our great nation,” said Kimberly Sentovich, vice president and regional general manager, Walmart. “America I Am not only recognizes African American history as American history, but as something that should be remembered throughout the year. We are excited to be able to present this history to our customers, associates and partners in Washington, D.C. area and throughout the East Coast.”
“Northern Trust is proud to be the educational partner of this inspiring exhibition portraying some of the many significant contributions African Americans have made to our society,” said Northern Trust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frederick H. Waddell. “We are deeply committed to promoting cultural understanding and inclusion among our employees, clients and the communities we serve. We hope many people in the Washington, D.C., area and around the world will experience America I AM and its celebration of African American history and culture.”
Tickets are timed and dated and can be purchased online at www.ngmuseum.org, by phone at (202) 857-7700, and at the National Geographic ticket office, 1600 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. (Note: booth opens when exhibit opens.) The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ticket prices are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors (over age 62), students, military personnel and National Geographic members; and $6 for children ages 2-12. Children under age 2 are admitted free.
Prices for groups of 25 or more are $8 per ticket, and K-12 school groups are $6 per person with one free adult ticket for each group of 10 students. For more information on group sales, call (202) 857-7281.
About The Smiley Group Inc.
Founded in 1998 and based in Los Angeles, The Smiley Group, Inc., (TSG) is a communications corporation dedicated to supporting human rights and related empowerment issues. The mission of TSG is to achieve positive results through advocacy and education on issues of concern to African Americans and other people without substantial economic or social standing. TSG is the holding company for Tavis Smiley Presents, Smiley Radio Properties, High Quality Speakers Bureau, TS Media, and SmileyBooks.
The Tavis Smiley Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides leadership development training for youth. Tavis Smiley is the host of “Tavis Smiley” on PBS and “The Tavis Smiley Show” from PRI and the author/editor of 14 books, including the New York Times best seller “Covenant with Black America.” His latest book is “Accountable: Making America as Good as Its Promise.” For more information, visitwww.tavistalks.com.
About Arts and Exhibitions International (AEI)
Founded in 2003 by president John Norman and international vice president Andres Numhauser, AEI produces the award-winning exhibition “Diana: A Celebration” in association with the Althorp Estate in the United Kingdom, two touring exhibitions dedicated to the treasures of King Tutankhamun and “Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship.” Norman and Numhauser have nearly 40 years combined experience in the entertainment and exhibition business, working over the years on such projects as “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit” and “Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes.” The company has relationships with the most important museums in the world and has presented traveling exhibitions on four continents. AEI is part of AEG Exhibitions, an affiliate division of AEG LIVE. AEG LIVE is the live-entertainment division of Los Angeles-based AEG, one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. For more information, visit www.artsandexhibitions.com.
About Cincinnati Museum Center
Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Robert D. Lindner Family OMNIMAX® Theater, and the Cincinnati Historical Society Archives & Library. It is a nationally recognized educational and research resource and one of the top cultural attractions in the Midwest. With more than one million visitors each year, Museum Center is the top cultural attraction in Cincinnati and the most visited museum complex in the State of Ohio. Originally built in 1933 as the Union Terminal train station, the building is a national historic landmark and was renovated and reopened as Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990. For information, call 513-287-7000 or 1-800-733-2077 or visitwww.cincymuseum.org.
About Walmart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Walmart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.wal-mart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $270 million to communities in the United States.
About Northern Trust
Northern Trust Corporation (NTRS) is a leading provider of investment management, asset and fund administration, banking solutions and fiduciary services for corporations, institutions and affluent individuals worldwide. Northern Trust, a financial holding company based in Chicago, has offices in 18 U.S. states and 16 international locations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. As of June 30, 2010, Northern Trust had US $3.6 trillion in assets under custody, and US$603 billion in assets under investment management. For 120 years, Northern Trust has earned distinction as an industry leader in combining exceptional service and expertise with innovative products and technology. For more information, visit www.northerntrust.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
About the National Geographic Museum
The National Geographic Museum, located at 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., features a variety of changing exhibitions as well as permanent and interactive displays that reflect the richness and diversity of our world. For more information, visit www.ngmuseum.org.