It was the summer of 2008 in Memphis, the birthplace of the blues. America was commemorating the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., against the backdrop of then Senator Barack Obama emerging as the first African American to become the Democratic presidential nominee. As America approached the historic presidential election, the national dialogue and debate intensified about race relations, politics, and the legacy of the civil rights movement.
This beautifully conceived companion volume addresses the central theme of the exhibition, posed by W. E. B. Du Bois: "Would America have been America without her Negro people?" Through exceptional photographic images and penetrating words, America I AM Legends captures the dynamism of 78 legendary African Americans, highlighting the indelible imprint each has made on the United States and the world. A statement illuminating a unique aspect of each iconic figure— made by the legend or by someone carrying on their legacy today—portrays the vision and contribution of each subject.