The National Constitution Center hosted the world debut of America I AM: The African American Imprint, celebrating 400 years of African American contributions to this country. The exhibition presents a historical continuum of pivotal moments in courage, conviction, and creativity that solidifies the undeniable imprint of African Americans across the nation and around the world.
Featuring more than 300 artifacts culled from every period of U.S. history, the exhibition will include objects, texts, religion, music, narration, and media. Among the poignant pieces are the doors to the Cape Coast Castle in Ghana that enslaved Africans passed through to board ships to the “New World” (Doors of No Return); Alex Haley’s typewriter used to write Roots; a first edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; personal effects of Malcolm X; the door key and stool from the Birmingham jail cell that held Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he authored his infamous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”; and many other important items from the beginnings of our nation through contemporary popular culture today. 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 to become the largest recorded oral history project in U.S. history.