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African American history exhibit gets extension

“America I AM” will stay at Gantt Center through March 3

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“America I AM,” a popular exhibit on African American contributions to U.S. history, will stay in Charlotte an extra two months, a stretch that includes black history month.

The traveling exhibit had been slated to end its stay at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture this weekend. But the center negotiated extra time with the exhibit’s designers, said communications director Bonita Buford.

About 15,000 people have attended since “America I AM” opened in July, the most popular exhibit the Gantt Center has hosted since the center opened in 2009, Buford said. The extension through March 3 means Charlotte will have access to the exhibit during Martin Luther King Day in January, black history month in February and the CIAA tournament that ends March 2, drawing throngs of visitors connected with historically black colleges.

“It was a no-brainer,” Buford said.

Created by broadcaster Tavis Smiley and the Cincinnati Museum Center, the display’s features range from artifacts of slavery to Prince’s purple guitar. It’s an official field trip for seventh-graders in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and the extension means additional schools will get to make the trip, Buford said.

Charlotte is the eighth city to host “America I AM,” with two more scheduled.

“The Gantt Center is the only African-American cultural institution to host this exhibition and serves as the last venue to house it in the Southeast as the exhibit makes its final tour,” the center’s web site says.

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