“America I AM: The African American Imprint”

“America I AM: The African American Imprint”

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia. The Act, which passed nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, made 3,100 District residents the “First Freed” by the federal government.
Well, last Saturday in commemoration of the historic event that took place nearly 150 years ago, the National Geographic Museum located in Washington, D.C. held an Emancipation Day Celebration. The event entitled “DC I AM: An Emancipation Day Celebration” was in conjunction with the exhibit
America I AM: The African American Imprint.

The family festival, sponsored by Wal-Mart, was free to the public and many attendees paid to see the exhibit. The four-year touring museum exhibit celebrates nearly 500 years of African American contributions to this country. Covering history from the arrival of Africans to the present day, the exhibition presents a collection of pivotal moments of courage, conviction, and creativity that have shaped the culture and society in which we live today in this nation and around the world. The exhibition examines four themes in particular: economic, socio-political, cultural, and spiritual impact on America. These themes serve as recurring touch points throughout the galleries, as visitors discover how our experience as Americans has been shaped by African Americans throughout history.  

The 15,000 square-foot exhibition is divided into twelve galleries, leading visitors through time on a journey from struggle to triumph. Featuring more than 200 artifacts culled from every period of U.S. history, the exhibition  includes objects, texts, religion, music, narration, and media. An interactive component of the exhibition allows visitors to leave their own video “imprints,” and this collection will grow throughout the life of the exhibition with the potential to become the largest recorded oral history project in U.S. history

Last Saturday’s events were highly interactive and included a panel discussion entitled “Exploring Emancipation,” live music, dance performances and poetry readings, art and writing activities based on true stories of freed slaves and past Emancipation Day parades, and family workshops from the Pearl Coalition and the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
For more information visit, http://www.americaiam.org .
The National Geographic museum is the fifth stop on the exhibition’s 10-city, four-year tour.  The exhibition was developed in partnership with Tavis Smiley and is organized by Cincinnati Museum Center and Arts and Exhibitions International, a division of AEG Live. The exhibition is made possible by presenting sponsor Walmart Stores Inc. The exhibition’s educational partner is Northern Trust. Local sponsors include GEICO; The Madison, the museum’s Official Hotel Partner; and Amtrak.