America I Am
"...my father was a slave and my people died to build this country" - Paul Robeson
I just had the experience of a lifetime. Although it may sound dramatic, there really is no other way to describe the America I Am exhibit. This interactive exhibit is the brainchild of Tavis Smiley and in essence is the history of black people in America. It is based on the premise that without us there would be no America. The exhibit demonstrates the cultural, economic, spiritual, and social-political "imprint" of African-Americans in the United States.
America I Am chronicles the gamut of the African American experience from slavery to the modern era. It is more than an exhibit, it is an interactive experience told through artifacts, lights, and sound, truly a multimedia experience that is unlike any that I have ever seen before.
Amidst the journalists this morning I had to move away from the crowd and experience some of this on my own. I have to admit that my eyes welled up with tears on more than one occasion. From walking through the replica "Door of No Return" that marked the beginning of the slaves passage from Africa to the United States, to seeing the 13th Amendment - with theoriginal signature of Abraham Lincoln (one of 14 souvenir copies that was de rigeur during that time period, this priceless document even had it's own seat on the airplane when traveling to Atlanta!) - I think you'll agree that my tears were justifiable.
One of the most most amazing things about America I Am is that it is a mobile exhibit. Although the foundation will remain the same, in each city there will be a special aspect - here the addition of the 13th Amendment was the gift. Thanks to Walmart, the primary sponsor of America I Am, this exhibit will travel across the country for four years. I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to see the exhibit early and truly encourage you to go. If you are in the Atlanta area or are planning on visiting I highly suggest you make this a priority. This is an exhibit that certainly needs to be seen by everyone but especially children. To that end, one of the sponsors, North Trust bank, generously donated 100,000 tickets for children that live in metropolitan Atlanta.
Tonight I will be attending the Gala celebration and promise to share photos from that experience too.