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California Science Center to host West Coast Debut of America I Am: The African American Imprint Exhibition
By Sentinel News Service
Published October 15, 2009

California Science Center to host West Coast Debut of America I Am: The African American Imprint Exhibition


Los Angeles will be home to the west coast debut of America I AM: The African American Imprint, a touring exhibition presented by broadcaster Tavis Smiley that celebrates nearly 500 years of African American contributions to the U.S. The showing at the California Science Center from October 30, 2009 to April 10, 2010, will be the third stop on the exhibition’s 10-city, four-year tour, following Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center and the Atlanta Civic Center.

America I AM will be a nearly 13,000 square-foot presentation of pivotal moments in courage, conviction and creativity that celebrate the undeniable imprint of African Americans on our nation and around the world. Through more than 200 rare historic objects, documents, photos and multimedia, visitors can explore how African Americans have contributed to and shaped American culture across four core areas: economic, socio-political, cultural and spiritual. The exhibition relates important events and people from the beginnings of the nation up through the present-day inauguration of the first African American president. Tickets are available beginning today 213-744-2019.

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. AEI also organized the King Tut exhibition that drew nearly 1 million visitors to LACMA in 2005.

“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.”

Exhibition organizers worked with some of the most notable scholars in the field to develop America I AM, one of the broadest 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 immediate past 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., the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and American Research at Harvard University. John Fleming, president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, serves as executive producer.

“We are pleased to host this exhibition, together with RACE: Are We So Different? and related programming with the California African American Museum,” notes Jeffrey Rudolph, president of the California Science Center. “The two exhibitions are complementary; America I Am highlights the contributions of African Americans and opens a dialogue about our collective experience and the RACE exhibit encourages guests to explore the science and everyday impact of race and racism.”


Through 12 galleries, America I AM conveys a journey from struggle to triumph to celebration. Visitors will walk past the “Door of No Return” and view personal artifacts and innovations from African American artists, activists and inventors. An interactive area allows visitors to leave their own video “imprints,” a collection that will grow throughout the tour with the potential to become the largest recorded oral history project in U.S. history. Among the poignant pieces 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

Items from contemporary icons including Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jordan, Tupac, and others

Objects representing the African American troops that fought and impacted the outcome of major U.S. wars

Malcolm X’s journal and personal Koran

The door key and stool from the Birmingham jail cell that held Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he authored “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

Frederick Douglass’ clothing and letter from President Lincoln that enabled him to move among Union lines recruiting black soldiers

The robe that Muhammad Ali wore during training for the “Rumble in the Jungle,” where he defeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman

And many other important items from the beginnings of our nation through today

“From King Tut to America I AM, which conveys a meaningful contemporary story, our hope in bringing these world-class exhibitions to Los Angeles is that visitors will leave uplifted and informed, with a richer understanding of the culture and history of this country, and the world,” said John Norman, president of AEI.

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 tour.

“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 Los Angeles area and throughout the West Coast.”

“Northern Trust is proud to be the educational partner of this inspiring exhibition portraying the many significant contributions African Americans have made to our society,” said Frederick H. Waddell, president and chief executive officer of Northern Trust. “We are deeply committed to promoting cultural understanding and inclusion among our employees, clients and the communities we serve. In supporting America I AM, we hope to further its celebration of African American history and culture here in Los Angeles and among visitors from around the world.”

Visitors can delve deeper into topics of race, culture and civil rights by exploring other related exhibitions, programs, and films on view at the California African American Museum – Tuskegee Airmen, Harlem of the West: Jazz, Bebop and Beatnik San Francisco’s Fillmore District 40s-50s, After 1968; An Idea Called Tomorrow I “”, California Science Center – RACE: Are We So Different? “”, and the Skirball Cultural Center – Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968, An Idea Called Tomorrow II, Breach of Peace: Photographs of Freedom Riders by Eric Etheridge “”

The California Science Center and IMAX Theater are located in historic Exposition Park just west of the Harbor (110) Freeway at 700 Exposition Park Drive. The Science Center is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 pm.

Tickets for America I AM: The African American Imprint are currently on sale. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets by phone at 213-744-2019 beginning Friday. America I AM admission prices are $9.50 for adults (18-59); $8.50 for students/youth (13-17), college students with I.D. and seniors (60+); and $6 for children (4-12). Member rates, including Science Center, California African American Museum and Skirball Center members, are $8.50 for adults (18-59); $7 for students/youth (13-17), college students with I.D. and seniors (60+); and $5 for children (4-12). School groups are admitted free; special rates apply for other groups of 15 or more. The exhibition’s group information number is 213-744-2019. Audio guides are also available at $5 for adults and children, $4 for member adults and children. Admission to all other Science Center exhibits is free.

More information about the exhibition and tickets is available at HYPERLINK “”

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