Wal-Mart Partners with Tavis Smiley to Launch Exhibit Celebrating More than 400 Years of African American Experience

Traveling museum exhibit will tour the United States over the next four years

NEW ORLEANS, February 23, 2008 – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is proud to announce it will serve as the title sponsor of Tavis Smiley’s “America I AM: The African American Imprint” traveling museum exhibition. This unique traveling exhibit will feature a collection of historically significant African American documents and artifacts, music, and cultural memorabilia that highlight every period of U.S. history.  The announcement was made in New Orleans today by Bill Simon, chief operating officer of Wal-Mart Stores U. S., at the 2008 State of the Black Union, hosted by nationally known radio and television personalities Tavis Smiley and Tom Joyner.

On an unprecedented level, this exhibition will provide visitors with a riveting and revealing presentation of one of America’s greatest legacies – the wide-ranging impact African Americans have had on the nation and the world. In addition, the exhibition will feature a one-of-a-kind “America I AM” experiential super truck that will cross the United States stopping at African-American museums and places of historical significance, until the exhibition tours museums in November. 

Through more than 150 extraordinary artifacts and photographs, multimedia presentations and enthralling stories, the show endeavors to open visitors’ eyes to the role African Americans have played in the nation’s history.  The exhibit is a historical continuum of pivotal moments in courage, conviction and creativity that collectively illustrate the undeniable imprint of African Americans across the nation and around the world. 

“As our country continues its celebration of Black History Month, it’s important to remember that African American history is, in fact, America’s history, and we are excited about the potential of this exhibit to enlighten and empower Americans across the country,” said Smiley. “We appreciate the vision and support of Wal-Mart to help bring this historic project to life.”

“The lessons and examples of this collection are more important, and more relevant, than ever,” Simon said in making the announcement. “Only after looking back with honesty, can we as a country move forward with hope.  And only by fully understanding the choices of the past can we make better choices for the future.”

The goal of the exhibition and its accompanying educational programs, pamphlets, lectures, film series, and other activities is to highlight how African Americans have made an indelible mark on the life, history, and culture of the United States and the world.

Over the next four years, the exhibit will make its journey across the country, stopping in 9 other major museums before reaching its final destination at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

In 2007, The State of the Black Union examined the impact of African Americans on the nation as our country celebrated the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, Va., the first permanent English settlement in North America. The “America I AM” museum tour is an extension of this discussion, and part of Smiley’s commitment to bring information and inspiration to communities nationwide. The Smiley Group, Inc. and Arts and Exhibitions International, a division of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, have worked together to develop the “America I AM” touring museum exhibit of the African American imprint on the United States and its culture.

Wal-Mart’s support is an extension of the company’s ongoing commitment to diversity.
The company is a leading employer of minorities in the U.S. with more than 237,000 African American associates. More than 20 percent of all colleges and universities the company recruited from in fiscal year 2008 were minority-serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). In fact, more than 5,400 of Wal-Mart’s associates are HBCU graduates. The company is proud to recognize the living history of African-Americans throughout the year through company-wide initiatives, such as tributes to the Buffalo Soldiers and Tuskegee Airmen. Wal-Mart’s commitment to diversity also extends beyond the four walls of the organization, and the company is proud to maintain community partnerships with organizations such as the National Urban League, Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, among many others. 

About The Smiley Group, Inc.
TSG is a communications corporation established in support of human rights and related empowerment issues. TSG serves as the holding company for various enterprises encompassing broadcast and print media, lectures, symposiums and the Internet including Tavis Smiley Presents.

About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $270 million to local communities in the United States. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartstores.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.

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