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Wed, 02.25.1914

James Cameron, Holocaust Museum Founder born

James Cameron

*James Cameron was born on this date in 1914. He was a Black brewing worker, activist, and founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum.

From LaCrosse, Wisconsin, he was the son of James Herbert Cameron and Vera Carter. After his father left the family, they moved to Birmingham, Alabama, then to Kokomo, Indiana. When his mother remarried, the family resettled in Marion, Indiana. Young Cameron attended DaPayne School through the 8th grade, where he was given the name "Apples" because he carried apples in his pockets for lunch.

At the age of 16, on the night of August 7, 1930, Cameron's friends Abe Smith, 19, and Tommy Shipp, 18, tried to hold up a white couple at "Lovers Lane." The Grant County Sheriff arrested Cameron, charging him and his friends with murder. The Ku Klux Klan stormed the jail and tried to lynch Cameron and his friends. Cameron passed out. His two friends, Shipp and Smith, were lynched, and Cameron's life was spared.  Although Madame C.J. Walker sent him two NAACP lawyers from Indianapolis, Cameron was convicted in his 1931 trial as an accessory.  Paroled in 1935, Cameron moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he worked for Stroh's Brewing Company and attended Wayne State University.

Also, during this time in Madison, Wisconsin, he founded the local NAACP branch and two more chapters in Muncie and South Bend, Indiana. In 1983, Cameron mortgaged his house to publish his memoir, A Time of Terror. In 1988 with the assistance of philanthropist Daniel Bader, he founded America's Black Holocaust Museum, a not-for-profit devoted to preserving the history of lynching in the United States and the struggle to eradicate it. Located in a twelve thousand square-foot gym purchased for one dollar from the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the museum contains artifacts from slavery, stereotypes, lynching postcards, and photographs.

Thousands of school children visit the museum, and Cameron had appeared on ABC television's Nightline and other television programs.  In 1991, Cameron was officially pardoned by the State of Indiana. James Cameron died on June 13, 2006. He was married to the former Virginia Hamilton. They had four sons and one daughter.

Reference:

ABH Museum.org

Archive.boston.com

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