In the video on the right, Jerrianne and Hibbie Hayslett talk about their experience visiting ABHM.
The Original Brick-and-Mortar Museum
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.
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.
The New Virtual Museum
On February 25, 2012, ABHM came back to life as a unique, cutting-edge, interactive, virtual museum. This 21st century, cost-effective format makes ABHM available to people around the world who would otherwise have no access to its information and resources. ABHM also installs temporary exhibits in public and university buildings in the greater Milwaukee area.
Scholar-griots from around the world have begun curating exhibits for ABHM. The virtual museum is still in its infancy, but exhibits are added every week.
Future plans include: a gift shop and fine art gallery; lesson plans and other resources for educators; a sophisticated multi-player role-playing game; and a simulated environment.
What You Can Do
• Visit often: New exhibits come online all the time. To be alerted to new exhibits as they are added, click on the RSS button at the foot of any page.
• Contribute: You can also contribute your time, talents, and funds to build the museum.
• Comment: And please, let us know what you think of exhibits by leaving comments at the bottoms of pages.
We hope your experience at ABHM is enlightening and rewarding. Thank you for visiting!
The theme of ABHM Founder’s Day Gathering on February 27, 2016 is “Black Voices Matter!” This evening of arts and culture dramatizes the historic and enduring struggle against violence and oppression by black writers and artists. ABHM’s annual Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation celebrates the civil rights legacy of Dr. James Cameron, builds community, and raises funds to operate the museum’s public programs.
Excerpts from Dr. James Cameron’s memoir, “A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story,” with Editor’s Notes. A new excerpt is posted each week during the 6-week crowd-funding campaign to raise the money necessary to publish the book – the only known memoir by a lynching survivor.
The four hundred-year history of captured Africans and their descendants has many similarities with the Holocaust experiences of European Jews – and other victims of mass atrocities. This exhibit explains those similarities and the reasons that ABHM’s founder believed it important to use the term “holocaust” in its title.
ABHM educates the public about the ongoing injustices endured by people of African heritage in America, and provides visitors with opportunities to rethink their assumptions about race and racism. Learn how we carry out this mission.
Learn about ABHM’s Four Themes – Remembrance, Resistance, Redemption, and Reconciliation – and how they thread through the museum’s exhibits.
Griots are the oral historians of West Africa, who travel from town to town as living newspapers, carrying in their heads an incredible store of local history and current events. At ABHM we call the curators of our exhibits “griots,” because they tell our history and respond to visitors’ comments and questions in the Comments section at the foot of each new exhibit.
James Cameron was just sixteen in 1930 when he and two other teens were lynched in Marion, Indiana. His friends were killed but, miraculously, James survived. He spent a year in jail awaiting trial for the murder that triggered the lynching. He was sentenced as an accessory before the fact and served four years in the Indiana Reformatory with hardened adult criminals.
Cameron believed God saved him for a purpose. He left prison resolved to do something “worthwhile and God-like.” He spent the rest of his long life working to help us understand this tragic chapter of American history. Dr. Cameron showed us how to cope with our painful legacy through love, justice, and reconciliation.