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‘America I Am’, Alice Walker exhibits close this weekend

We’re down to the final few days for two exhibitions with special ties to Atlanta.

“America I AM: The African-American Imprint,” a blockbuster exhibit with hundreds of historic artifacts, was extended once, but will finish its run here on Sunday.

“A Keeping of Records: the Art and Life of Alice Walker,” is based on items purchased by Emory University, but this is the first public showing. It won’t always be so easy to see them up close, and with the context the museum exhibit provides.

Here’s a look at what’s in each exhibit, the story behind it and how to see it.

AMERICA I AM

Tavis Smiley escorts Rev. Bernice King, left, and Christine King Farris, the daughter and sister of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., through "America I AM" in Atlanta. AJC file photo

“America I  AM: The African-American Imprint”

What you’ll see: 500 years of history, from “The Door of No Return” from Ghana to Barack Obama speehes. The exhibition is 22,000 square feet and contains nearly 300 artifacts, including more than 40 added to the show in Atlanta.

What’s behind it: “America I AM” is the brainchild of radio and TV host Tavis Smiley, who was reporting a story about the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, but wanted a better way to share the story of the first African slaves who arrived in America. Said Smiley: “I started wrestling with the idea: How do I get this story told?” The exhibition is now on a four-year, 10-city tour. Here’s an interview with Smiley from when “America I AM” opened in Atlatna.

Want to go? “America I AM” runs through Sept. 27. $5-12 through Ticketmaster, $4-10 through Walmart. The Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, 395 Piedmont Ave N.E., Atlanta. www.americaIam.org.

“A Keeping of Records: the Art and Life of Alice Walker

What you’ll see: More than 200 items from 1944 to the present, all from the life of Georgia-born writer Alice Walker. They include manuscripts, letters, notebooks, photographs and memorabilia of “The Color Purple” author.

What’s behind it: Emory University purchased Walker’s entire archive and began to unpack it in 2007. The first public exhibition of her drafts, school grades, family photos and personal notes opened in April. The exhibit name came from notes Walker had written on one scrap of paper:  “If it isn’t in the records, it will be said it didn’t happen. This is what history is: a keeping of records.” Here’s an interview with Walker, published days after the exhibition of her records went on display.

Want to go? “A Keeping of Records” runs through Sept. 27. Free. Emory University’s Schatten Gallery, inside the Robert W. Woodruff library, at Clifton and Fishburne roads, Atlanta. 404-727-6861,http://web.library.emory.edu/libraries/schatten

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