With the arrival of the “America I Am” exhibit in Charlotte, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is hosting reading and discussion programs to expand the focus on African-American contributions to the nation.
“Let’s Talk About It: The African American Experience – Looking Forward, Looking Back” is the library’s biweekly read-and-discuss series.
Four discussions will be led by local scholars. Books by African-American authors are on the reading list.
“The exhibit focuses on the African-American experience in this country,” said Sandra Govan, the scholar chosen to lead the first and last of the library’s four events. “The series ties in almost naturally.
“It creates a conjunction between the artifacts and the exhibit and what the writers have been talking about for some time.”
“America I Am” will be in town through Jan. 1 at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture.
The artifacts and information presented document moments of courage, conviction and creativity of nearly 500 years that have shaped America’s culture and also had influence in other parts of the world.
The collection includes images of slave ships, as well as musical instruments and pottery created in America by African captives.
A robe worn by former world heavyweight champion boxer Muhammad Ali also is in the collection.
The library received a grant from the N.C. Humanities Council for the reading programs. The N.C. Center for the Book is also a partner.
The library kicked off the book talks Tuesday at the Gantt Center with tours of the exhibit for the scholars and guests.
Remaining discussions will be at the Beatties Ford Road Library. The series continues on Sept. 24 with a program led by UNC Charlotte professor Jeffrey Leak and a discussion of James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain.”
The books in the series explore a range of experiences that may have been familiar among African-Americans at various times in history, said Govan, a retired UNCC English professor.
“It’s good to have it centered right here in Charlotte,” Govan said of the events. “This is one of the few times we’ve done the whole African-American experience in Charlotte.”