About ABHM

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.

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

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!


Special Exhibits


“Know the Past • Heal the Present” Book Publishing Project

By Scholar-Griot Dr. Fran Kaplan, Editor of A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story by James Cameron From October 14 to November 28, 2014, ABHM’s parent organization, the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation, Inc., is raising funds to publish a revised 3rd edition of Dr Cameron’s historic memoir. Each week during the Know the Past • Heal the Present Book Campaign, we will publish an excerpt from the book along with explanatory notes and an image that may be included in the new edition. Excerpts Week 1 – Chapter Eight: Demonic Terror Earlier in the day, I later learned, the only black physician in Marion, Dr. Bailey, had received word from his white friends in the town that three black youths in the Grant County jail would be lynched that night. They would be taken from the jail and lynched by a Ku Klux Klan mob. His white friends told him of the general plot that had been planned with the precision of a military coup…. News of the impending lynching in Marion was broadcast over the radio stations in the state and heard throughout the Midwest. [Editor’s Note: James Cameron narrowly escaped being hanged with two other black teenagers in Marion, Indiana, in 1930. That lynching, while it took place outside the South, was typical of the thousands of “spectacle lynchings” that were held in the former Confederacy from the 1880s to the 1940s. A spectacle lynching followed a certain ritual: a large number of spectators attended from far and wide; a […]

During Jim Crow, black men were often jailed for "shiftlessness" or other trumped up "crimes" like failing to step off the sidewalk for a white man. These "criminals" were put to work in factories, plantations, and mines owned by white businessmen.

What Is The Black Holocaust?

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.

deseg classrm

Our Mission

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.

HenttaMari NatGeo shackles

The Museum’s Four Themes: Remembrance, Resistance, Redemption, and Reconciliation

Learn about ABHM’s Four Themes – Remembrance, Resistance, Redemption, and Reconciliation – and how they thread through the museum’s exhibits.

Griot with kora

Griots At The Museum

This exhibit has video

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, also known as "Jim" to his sisters and "Apples" to his classmates, in school picture. Courtesy of the Cameron Family.

Dr. James Cameron, Museum Founder and Lynching Survivor

This exhibit has video

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.