About ABHM

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About ABHM

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A man stands in front of the Djingareyber mosque on February 4, 2016 in Timbuktu, central Mali. 
Mali's fabled city of Timbuktu on February 4 celebrated the recovery of its historic mausoleums, destroyed during an Islamist takeover of northern Mali in 2012 and rebuilt thanks to UN cultural agency UNESCO.
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SEBASTIEN RIEUSSEC / AFP / SÉBASTIEN RIEUSSEC
African Peoples Before Captivity
Shackles from Slave Ship Henrietta Marie
Kidnapped: The Middle Passage
Enslaved family picking cotton
Nearly Three Centuries Of Enslavement
1st Black Men Elected to Congress
Reconstruction: A Brief Glimpse of Freedom
The Lynching of Laura Nelson_May_1911 200x200
One Hundred Years of Jim Crow
Civil Rights protest in Alabama
I Am Somebody! The Struggle for Justice
Black Lives Matter movement
NOW: Free At Last?
#15-Beitler photo best TF reduced size
Memorial to the Victims of Lynching
hands raised black background
The Freedom-Lovers’ Roll Call Wall
Frozen custard in Milwaukee's Bronzeville
Special Exhibits

Breaking News!

Today's news and culture by Black and other reporters in the Black and mainstream media.

Ways to Support ABHM?

ABHM: A Unique Experience for Visitors from Near and Far

This museum has a number of special features. ABHM

  • Is both a historical and memorial museum.
  • Has two ways to share the story of the Black Holocaust:
    • On-site galleries for people who can visit us in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
    • On-line galleries for people who can access our 3300+ exhibits in cyberspace
  • Describes and commemorates the Black Holocaust from pre-captivity in Africa to the present day.
  • Was founded by a lynching survivor.
  • Was forced to close after 20 years – but re-established through grassroots community efforts.

How ABHM Was Born – and Reborn!

Our Original Brick-and-Mortar Museum – 1988 to 2008

America’s Black Holocaust Museum was founded in 1984 in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin storefront by Dr. James Cameron, the only known survivor of a lynching. In 1988 Cameron acquired a spacious free-standing building, where the he expanded ABHM’s exhibits and employed staff.

The museum attracted many local, national, and international visitors. Many took guided tours led by “griots” (docents) who interpreted the exhibits and promoted dialogue with and among visitors.

Dr. Cameron also spoke daily with most visitors about his survival experience – making for a very special encounter with living history. His passing in 2006 combined with the country’s economic downturn forced the museum to give up its building in 2008.

Jerrianne and Hibbie Hayslett, who grew up in the South, talk about their first experiences visiting ABHM.

Hibbie would later become one of the museum's long-serving volunteer "griots" (docents).

Our Virtual Museum (On-line) – 2012 to Present

On Dr. Cameron's birthday, February 25, 2012, ABHM came back to life as a unique, cutting-edge, interactive, virtual museum. This 21st century format has made ABHM available to people around the world who would otherwise have no access to its unique educational resources. Each year our 3200+ page online museum serves millions of visitors – students and adults alike – in over 200 countries.

Scholar-griots from around the world curate our online exhibits. Our virtual museum regularly adds new exhibits, including Breaking News: History in the Making, every week.

Future plans for ABHM Online include new history galleries, more special exhibitions, a gift shop, fine art gallery, and resources for educators such as lesson plans and activities.

What You Can Do at ABHM On-line

  • Visit often: New exhibits come online all the time.
  • Contribute: You can also contribute your time and talents, scholarship, funds, artifacts, and useable equipment to support both the online and onsite museums.
  • Comment: Please, let us – and other visitors – know how our exhibits stimulated your thinking by leaving comments at the bottoms of pages.

We hope your experience at ABHM Online is enlightening and rewarding. Thank you for visiting!

ABHM’s New On-site Museum (Physical Galleries) – Coming Soon!

In 2011 a small group of determined and dedicated community volunteers began  working to reestablish ABHM as a physical facility. Their efforts have now born fruit, their dreams realized!

ABHM's new galleries will soon open on the very footprint of our first building in Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood. Located on the ground floor of the new Griot Building (named for Dr. Cameron), the new galleries will take visitors on a chronological journey through the Black Holocaust from 1619 to the present.

Learn About...

Our Mission and Vision

Photo used with permission of Edwin Gonzalez

ABHM builds public awareness of the harmful legacies of slavery and Jim Crow in America and promotes racial repair, reconciliation, and healing. A society that remembers its past in order to shape a better future – a nation undivided by race where every person matters equally.

What is the Black Holocaust?

Shackles from Slave Ship Henrietta Marie

“Holocaust” comes from a Greek word meaning “burnt offering.” The term was first used to describe the massacres of Armenians in the 1890s. It was used again in the 1940s to describe the mass destruction of European Jewish communities by the Nazis, also known by the Hebrew word “Shoah.”

Our Four Themes: Remembrance, Resistance, Redemption, Reconciliation

Ida B. Wells

In each Gallery of this virtual museum you will find exhibits reflecting one or more of our Four Themes: Remembrance, Resistance, Redemption, and Reconciliation.

Dr. Cameron: Founder Lynching Survivor

JC in Beloit 1974_Troy Freund cropped

Quiet in demeanor but with a playful spirit, James Cameron was a force of nature and an unrelenting champion for civil rights. He overcame anger and hate as a young man, then dedicated his life to preserving and sharing Black history as an integral part of U.S. history, eradicating racism and fulfilling the ideals and promise of America.

Our History and Impact

JC elder in ABHM

Dr. James Cameron, who survived a lynching as a teenager in 1930, founded America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1988. He dedicated his entire life to helping America realize its promise of liberty and justice for all. An early civil rights activist, he fought racial segregation in 1940s Indiana.

After moving to Milwaukee, Cameron published a memoir about his lynching and coming of age during the Jim Crow era. He traveled the country educating audiences at high schools, colleges, and other venues about the Black Holocaust as an integral part of US history, seen through the lens of these personal experiences.

What is a Griot?

Griot with kora

“Griot” (pronounced GREE-oh) is the French name given to the oral historians of West Africa. Traditionally griots travel from city to city and village to village as living newspapers, carrying in their heads an incredible store of local history and current events. They pass on their knowledge of history by singing traditional songs, which they must recite accurately, without errors or deviations. Like rappers, they also make up songs as they go to share current events, gossip, political commentary and satire.

“A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story”– Excerpts from Dr. Cameron’s Memoir

Winner of the 2016 IPPY Silver Medal for Non-Fiction, Great Lakes Region

LifeWrites Press, a division of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation, released a new, expanded edition of Dr. James Cameron’s memoir on his birthday, February 25, 2016.

In May 2016 the book received a Silver Medal for Best Nonfiction, Great Lakes Region in IPPY’s (the Independent Publishers Association) international competition.

My First Visit to ABHM

James Cameron in his new museum at its dedication in 1988. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel announced the opening date of a new museum: America’s Black Holocaust Museum. “What is that about?” I wondered, “And what is a Black Holocaust?” There was something written about lynching. Lynching? I was not sure that word had ever been said aloud by any teacher in all my grade school or high school years. Now this Mr. Cameron says that he actually survived being lynched. I had to meet him and see his museum.

Tell Your Dr. Cameron Story

Cameron---1000b

Many people interacted with Dr. James Cameron during his long life as a civil rights pioneer, family man, worker, author, orator, educator, and museum founder.

Perhaps you were fortunate to be one of those who learned, laughed, broke bread, and/or became inspired, by this man. Here is an opportunity to share your story.

Comments Are Welcome

Note: We moderate submissions in order to create a space for meaningful dialogue, a space where museum visitors – adults and youth –– can exchange informed, thoughtful, and relevant comments that add value to our exhibits.

Racial slurs, personal attacks, obscenity, profanity, and SHOUTING do not meet the above standard. Such comments are posted in the exhibit Hateful Speech. Commercial promotions, impersonations, and incoherent comments likewise fail to meet our goals, so will not be posted. Submissions longer than 120 words will be shortened.

See our full Comments Policy here.

5 Comments

  1. katherine kemp on April 21, 2021 at 9:25 AM

    is there a way to get the specific story of someone listed as lynched in la

    • dr_fran on May 10, 2021 at 4:05 PM

      Katherine, unfortunately we do not have the people-power to research the stories of the nearly 5000 Black individuals who were lynched. Our small staff is all volunteers with other jobs. We receive our stories from ordinary individuals like yourself who are descendants of lynching victims or simply curious and compassionate seekers of knowledge. You could be one of those and able to find out more about the victim you want to learn about by searching in the archives of the newspapers in the area where the lynching took place. Often the event was written up in the local paper.

  2. Andrew McNairy on May 10, 2021 at 4:31 PM

    When yawl opening back up?

    • dr_fran on May 10, 2021 at 4:49 PM

      As soon as it’s safe to have visitors crowded into small spaces around and within our exhibits. Thanks for your interest! Please subscribe to our newsletter The Griot using the form on our home page — OR visit our home page regularly to watch for the announcement of our grand opening! Hope to see you there, Andrew!

  3. Velandy Manohar, MD on June 22, 2021 at 3:13 PM

    Dear Friends and Neighbors
    Today June 21, is the 57th anniversary of murder of three fearless Freedom Riders in Philadelphia, Mississippi.
    Since Friday I have had the opportunity to take a look at the Juneteenth Flag and jot down my responses. I would like to share this if I may.

    I am very glad this weekend brought us much to be grateful for, especially a high point was when President Biden signed the Billing to Law and created a Landmark National Holiday. He went down on one knee to welcome 94 yo Grandmother of the Juneteenth to white House. Ms. Opal Lee is an untiring courageous Texas Activist. Biden got down on one knee to welcome the 94-year-old ‘grandmother’ of Juneteenth to the White House (yahoo.com)

    This image in the historic context of the establishment of a National holiday and the Video of President Obama singing Amazing Grace at the Church to commemorate the Martyrdom of Emmanuel Nine I shared this video in my last mailing are most heartwarming and spiritually satisfying especially because there is silken skein connecting the events we are commemorating then when Mr Biden was V-P and now when Mr Biden is President and an eminent African American- Asian Woman is the V-P of our United States.

    Mother Pollard’s words resonate with me in the context of this 400-year long struggle When asked about how she was coping with having to walk to work every day,[Birmingham Bus boycott- that launched Dr. Kings Satya graha- Civil rights movement she said “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” This is recalled by Dr. King in his speech I have provided.

    These are extremely moving reminders of the great sacrifice made by African Americans as they bore the brunt of the struggle for achieving Equity, right to Self -determination, “and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” that was promised on 09 17 1787 .

    I am sharing a description of the Juneteenth Flag and my reflections on the symbolism. What does it say to you folks? This attachment includes the text of most memorable speech, “Our God is Marching On” delivered at the triumphant conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March on, March 26, 1965, when he focused our attention on the ARC of the Moral Universe that demands our unremitting attention and unrelenting focus if we are to bend it towards Justice. Our History makes it cannot happen on its own accord. ….
    Please write to me. I will send you all of the documents and an earlier Memorandum about the June 17th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of the Emmanuel Nine and the Juneteenth Event. Your museum and especially your founder’s miracle. Dr. Cameron is an enlightened courageous leader who is working to advance on these 4 fronts, Remembrances, Resistance, Redemption and Reconciliation. Perhaps your staff could research the possibility of adding another R in the thematic palette- Reparation please check my website: velandymanoharmd.com. I have close ties with the Smithsonian’s NM African American Heritage and Culture from the time when Dr. Lonnie Bunch was running the shoe and creating the concepts for the Museum. There are related posts there.. I welcome your responses. In God’s Light we see light Psalm 36.9

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