What does the robe of Muhammad Ali, one of Prince's guitars, Alex Haley's typewriter, and a key from a Birmingham jail cell that held Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., have in common? They are all artifacts from the lives of African Americans who irrevocably changed our society. In Tavis Smiley's touring exhibit, America I Am: The African American Imprint, these objects and others related to innovative artists, activists and inventors make up more than 200 pieces that Smiley gathered from museums across the country.
The exhibit, opening at Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, examines African-Americans' impact across four core areas (economic, socio-political, cultural, and spiritual) throughout the country's history. Among the most powerful objects are "The Doors of No Return," original doors that captive Africans passed through when boarding slave ships to America from Ghana. $8-$12. Exhibit opens June 30 and continues through Jan. 1. Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St. 704-547-3700. www.ganttcenter.org