“I asked for a Black designer” said broadcaster Tavis Smiley, as he talked Tuesday night about the development of his conception, the “America I AM: The African American Imprint,” touring exhibition that just opened at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.. The exhibit runs through Sunday, May 1, 2011 with D.C. being the fifth stop on the exhibition’s 10-city, four-year tour.
The opening reception included the Indiana native’s talk about his affirmative inclusion of other African-Americans in the exhibit’s development. Before Smiley spoke, guest dined on food from Black themed restaurants including Black-owned Langston Bar and Grille, 1831 Benning Road, NE, across from the historically-Black Langston Golf course. Their fare included grits and shrimp.
Discount tickets to the museum and exhibit are available at WalMart.
Exhibition highlights include:
- “The Door of No Return” from the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, which enslaved Africans passed through to board ships to begin the Middle Passage
- Items from contemporary icons, including Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Jimi Hendrix, Michael Jordan and Tupac
- Objects pertaining to the African American troops that fought in major U.S. wars
- Malcolm X’s journal and personal Quran
- 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 a reproduced letter from President Lincoln that enabled Douglass to move among Union lines recruiting Black soldiers
- The robe Muhammad Ali wore during training for the “Rumble in the Jungle,” where he defeated world heavyweight champion George Foreman
- A model of the first traffic signal, invented by Garrett Morgan, which served as the basis for today’s traffic lights.