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When the past is present…

“…The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin

 

BuzzFeed Features Dr. Cameron and ABHM in “How to Survive a Lynching”

By Syreeta McFadden, BuzzFeed.com

Lawrence Beitler was sitting on the front porch of his home in Marion, Indiana, when someone asked him to tote his 8×10 view camera to the town square. It was past midnight on August 8, 1930, and Beitler, 44, was a professional photographer who mostly shot portraits of weddings, schoolchildren, and church groups. That night, he would be photographing a lynching. He “didn’t even want to do it,” according to a later interview with his daughter, “but taking pictures was his business.”

Photographer Lawrence Beitler was called from his studio after the second teen was hanged. He apparently lit the nighttime scene. It appears that tree limbs were removed from the spreading maple, so that the bodies of Abram Smith and Tommy Shipp could be seen. Jimmie Cameron was to be the next victim.

Photographer Lawrence Beitler was called from his studio to document the murdered boys and their proud lynchers for posterity.

By the time Beitler arrived on the square, a jubilant mob of nearly 15,000 white men, women, and children had gathered. Earlier that night, a group of vigilantes had charged the county jail to seize two black teenagers — Thomas Shipp, 18, and Abram Smith, 19 — who’d allegedly raped a young white woman and murdered her boyfriend. Beitler took one photo of Shipp’s and Smith’s brutalized bodies hanging from a tree, the crowd of eager onlookers before them, and left.

Lynching, in the American imagination, is considered to be solely the provenance of Confederate racism, one of the most prominent examples being the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi. Yet the most notorious lynching imagery prior to Till came from Union towns: Duluth, MinnesotaCairo, IllinoisOmaha, Nebraska — and Marion, Indiana. It is Beitler’s photograph, in particular, that has served as the most glaring visual reminder of the country’s decades-long spectacle of racism and public murder. The photo of the lynching of two Indiana teenagers would never grace the pages of the local paper. But the image is everywhere.

Souvenir Portrait of the Lynching of Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp, August 7, 1930, by studio photographer Lawrence Beitler. Courtesy of the Indiana Hisorical Society.

Souvenir Portrait of the Lynching of Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp, August 7, 1930. Courtesy of the Indiana Hisorical Society.

It was Beitler’s photograph that inspired Abel Meeropol to write his anti-lynching poem “Strange Fruit” in 1936, which Billie Holiday would later record and make famous. Just last month, a decade-old mural adaptation of the photograph in Elgin, Illinois, which features only the faces of the white participants, came under public scrutiny as people discovered the image’s origin.

The photo of the lynching of two Indiana teenagers would never grace the pages of the local paper. But the image is everywhere.

I can’t say exactly when I first encountered the image. It might have been as an undergrad at Columbia, in the library of the black students’ lounge as I thumbed through a copy of Ralph Ginzburg’s 100 Years of Lynchings. But my understanding of its significance came in the late summer of 1996, when a friend and I visited America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) in my hometown of Milwaukee.

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Dr. James Cameron in America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

When we entered the main exhibition room, there was a built-to-scale rendering of Beitler’s photo made out of wax, including the facsimiles of Shipp and Smith hanging from the tree. “Did you know that there was a third boy they tried to lynch that night?” our museum guide, a tall but frail older man, asked us, his voice warm and gravelly. We didn’t. Our guide went on to explain that there were actually three ropes strung up on the maple tree in Marion on August 7, 1930. A third teenager had been dragged from his jail cell to the courthouse square. His name was James Cameron and he was the only known person to have ever survived a lynching in America.

We were standing in front of him….

 

Read the well-researched and beautifully written full feature article about ABHM’s founder, James Cameron, the lynching he survived, and the museum he founded.

Dr. Cameron’s memoir, A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story, is the only account of a lynching ever written by a survivor. You can buy the book here.

Watch Dr. Cameron tell his story in the video in this exhibit.

More Breaking News here.

 

Grand Jury Declines to Indict Cop Who Slammed Teen Girl to Ground

BY BREANNA EDWARDS, theroot.com

Cpl. Eric Casebolt will not face criminal charges after a controversial video showed him aggressively tossing a 15-year-old girl in a bathing suit to the ground at a pool party and then pinning her to the ground with his knees.

A Texas grand jury declined to indict a McKinney, Texas, police officer who was seen on video slamming a teenage girl to the ground outside a pool party last year, WFAA reports.

Now-former Police Cpl. Eric Casebolt was thrust into the spotlight in June 2015 after seven minutes of video showed the officer aggressively tossing the 15-year-old girl to the ground before pinning her with his knees. Casebolt also pulled his gun on two other youths who came running to help the girl.

A Collin County grand jury ruled Thursday that there was not enough evidence to press criminal charges against Casebolt, WFAA reports.

“We’re glad that the system worked in his favor in this case,” Casebolt’s attorney, Tom Mills, said of the decision, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Casebolt resigned four days after the incident.

Officer Eric Casebolt

Officer Eric Casebolt

Following the decision, the family of the teenage girl Casebolt slammed to the ground said they will sue Casebolt, the Morning News notes.

“We currently live in a time in which the public servants who are hired to protect and serve are not required to uphold the very law they are sworn to enforce,” attorney Kim T. Cole said in a prepared statement. “The message is clear.  Police are above the law.  This must change.”

According to the Morning News, following the grand jury’s decision, McKinney police will be hosting a forum Monday evening titled, “Moving Forward, Strengthening Police and Community Relationships.”

Read more here.

More Breaking News here.

 

Time of Terror Book Talks & Exhibits in June 2016

Want to learn more about ABHM’s award winning book, see its newest traveling exhibit, hear talks by its griots?

There are several great opportunities in Milwaukee this month!

You aren’t in Milwaukee, but would like to have a speaker come to your group? Click here for a Griot To Go!

JUNE 13-23 – MUSEUM EXHIBIT and BOOK TALK at MILWAUKEE CITY HALL

Rotunda, City Hall

200 E Wells St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

8:00am to 5:00pm weekdays

Fran Kaplan (L) and Reggie Jackson (R) accepting the Silver IPPY medals on May 10, 2016, in Chicago. They are two of four authors who contributed the additional materials included in A Time of Terror's 3rd edition.

Fran Kaplan (L) and Reggie Jackson (R) accepting the Silver IPPY medals on May 10, 2016, in Chicago. They are two of four authors who contributed the additional materials included in A Time of Terror’s 3rd edition.

– EXHIBIT: The Life and Writings of Dr. James Cameron, an America’s Black Holocaust Museum’s traveling exhibit, will be on display for the public weekdays from June 13-23.

– BOOK TALK / SALE / SIGNING: June 16 – 2:00pm

In conjunction with the exhibit at City Hall, ABHM Head Griot and Time of Terror contributing author Reggie Jackson will speak about the book in the Rotunda. The book will be available for sale and author signing following the talk until 4:00pm.

Sponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library.

JUNE 25-30 – EXHIBIT and TALK at MOBILITY MATTERS / MOBILE DESIGN BOX

Mobile Design Box (UWM – School of Architecture and Urban Planning)

1551 North Water  (Water and East Pleasant Streets)

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

– EXHIBIT: The VIRTUAL Museum and Writings of Dr. James Cameron, an ABHM traveling exhibit, will be on display for the public daily from June 25-30.

– PRESENTATION / DEMONSTRATION: June 25 – 6:00-8:00pm 

In conjunction with the above exhibit at the Mobile Design Box,  A Time of Terror contributing authors Dr. Fran Kaplan, Dr. Robert Smith, and Reggie  Jackson will demonstrate and talk about America’s Black Holocaust virtual (entirely online) Museum and answer the questions:

  • What is a virtual museum and what can it do?
  • How and why did a group of Milwaukeeans create a one-of-a-kind online museum that is attracting visitors from around the globe?

– BOOK SALE / SIGNING – A Time of Terror will be available for purchase at the event and the contributors will sign books from 7:30-8:00pm.

The exhibit, talk, and book sale/signing are open and free to the public. For more information, visit www.milwaukeeartsbarge.org or www.reciprocitymke.com.

These events are part of the Mobility Matters exhibition, which highlights a series of projects, collaborative practices, and community issues that are transforming the social fabric of the Midwest.

JUNE 27 – BOOK TALK / SALE / SIGNING at BOSWELL BOOK COMPANY

7:00 pm

Boswell Book Company

2559 N. Downer Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53211

JCinABHM

Dr. James Cameron, lynching survivor, civil rights activist, and founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

Fran Kaplan and Robert Samuel Smith, editors and coauthors of the Introduction to James Cameron’s A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story, 3rd edition, will present a reading and audio-visual talk: The Life, Times and Accomplishments of Dr. James Cameron, a Milwaukee hero and early civil rights pioneer.

Dr. Fran Kaplan serves as coordinator of the virtual America’s Black Holocaust Museum. She has been an educator, social worker, writer, and racial justice activist for nearly five decades. Fran has created and run nonprofit and for profit organizations that address issues from women’s health and farmworker rights to nurturing parenting, early childhood education, and peace-building.

Dr. Robert Samuel Smith is Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion & Engagement, the Director of the Cultures & Communities Program, and Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He teaches courses on African American History, Multicultural America, African Americans and the Law, and U.S. Legal History. He is author of the book Race, Labor and Civil Rights, and contributes a monthly column to Milwaukee Magazine.

Drs. Kaplan and Smith will be joined in the book signing by the late Dr. Cameron’s son, Virgil, and his protégé and book contributor, Reggie Jackson. The event is cosponsored by America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

 

Lynching Survivor’s Memoir Wins Prestigious Book Award

For Immediate Release
For more information, contact
Tammy Belton-Davis at (414) 339-7604
or tammy@athenacommunicationsllc.com

ToT front w back excerptMILWAUKEE (May 25, 2016) – Dr. James Cameron’s memoir A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story recently received the 20th Annual 2016 Independent Publisher Book Award. “IPPY” Awards are presented to the year’s best titles in the important and growing arena of independent publishing. A Time of Terror garnered the Silver Medal for the Great Lakes – Best Regional Non-Fiction during an awards ceremony held May 10th in Chicago.

A Time of Terror is the only lynching account ever written by a survivor. The photograph of this horrific spectacle, in which two other boys died, is the most well-recognized of such images in the world. It inspired the song “Strange Fruit” made famous by Billie Holiday. Only sixteen when the 1930 lynching took place, Cameron wrote his memoir at the age of twenty-one. It was published almost fifty years later and became an instant media sensation.

Baby Jimmie Cameron in his mother Vera's arms, surrounded by female relatives in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, 1914.

Baby Jimmie Cameron in his mother Vera’s arms, surrounded by female relatives in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, 1914.

This expanded third edition includes never-before-published chapters and fifty vintage photographs. It also contains over 100 annotations that provide definitions of the era’s expressions and background on historical characters and events. A Foreword by bestselling author James Loewen (Lies My Teacher Told Me) explains how Cameron’s story sheds light on current race relations in America. An Introduction by historian Robert Smith and educator Fran Kaplan helps the reader grasp the social and cultural environment in which young Cameron grew up. The Afterword by ABHM Head Griot Reggie Jackson describes Cameron’s adult life — after his memoir ends — as a civil rights pioneer and public historian.

“Cameron’s memoir is an inspired meditation on individual human endeavor, comparable to the trials and tribulations of Richard Wright’s Bigger Thomas, but with an uplifting ending,” writes one reviewer, Dr. Stephen Small, professor of African-American Studies at the University of California-Berkeley.

lifewrites-press-logoThe book is available for purchase through amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com for $24.99. A schedule of book talks and signings, as well as downloadable book excerpts, can be found at www.atimeofterror.info. The book was published by LifeWrites Press, the publishing arm of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation, which also operates America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

Fran Kaplan (L) and Reggie Jackson (R) accepting the Silver IPPY medals on May 10, 2016, in Chicago. They are two of four authors who contributed the additional materials included in A Time of Terror's 3rd edition.

Fran Kaplan (L) and Reggie Jackson (R) accepting the Silver IPPY medals on May 10, 2016, in Chicago. They are two of four authors who contributed the additional materials included in A Time of Terror’s 3rd edition.

“We are so honored to receive this prestigious award honoring Dr. Cameron and his story,” said Reggie Jackson, Head Griot (docent) of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. “Despite the terrible trauma he suffered in his youth, Dr. Cameron never lost his hope and faith in America and its ideals. His accomplishments as a civil rights pioneer, working man, self-taught historian, writer, father of five, and founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum are nothing short of phenomenal.”

The “IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996, bring  recognition to the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors and publishers around the world.

 

Black Media Excluded from U.S. Justice Department’s Anti-Smoking Campaigns

By Daisy Jenkins, Huffingtonpost.com

…(M)y cousin passed away. He was one of the approximately 45,000 black people who die each year from smoking-related disease, according to The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.menthol_24

If my cousin, on his deathbed, felt compelled to inform black youth about the dangers of smoking, one would think that the U.S. Justice Department, led by U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler, the Tobacco-Free Action Fund and the country’s four major tobacco companies would have the same revelation. It’s totally inconceivable that on January 17, 2014, these entities chose to exclude the black print or broadcast media from their consent agreement that requires tobacco companies to spend more than $30 to $45 million in advertising as a result of their misrepresentation of the hazards of smoking. The $30 to $45 million will be distributed among the three major networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) as well as full-page newspaper ads and website space in white and Hispanic media. This exclusion of black media is both destructive and disrespectful to the black community; shame on the U.S. Justice Department for being party to the injustice of this odious decision.

The blatantly clear message from this decision is that these leading entities don’t care about the devastating effects of tobacco use in the black community. The irony of it all is that for well over three decades the tobacco industry targeted and heavily exploited the black community to protect a declining consumer base and their profits by increasing smoking among blacks…

…Advertisement expenditures in black communities for mentholated cigarettes increased from 13 percent of total ad expenditures in 1998 to 49 percent in 2005.

The advertising was very effective and led to a disproportionately high use of menthol cigarettes by 84 percent of black smokers over the age of 12 compared to 24 and 32 percent for Caucasians and Hispanics, respectively. According to The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, mentholated cigarettes could increase the risk of both lung and bronchial cancer more than regular cigarettes and are much more addictive…

It’s now time to use the same targeted advertising through the black media to communicate a different message about tobacco use to the black community: “Smoking Isn’t Cool, It Kills!”…

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Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation”, Hollywood Clapback or Just Another Slave Movie?

By Riley Wilson and Shantrelle P. Lewis, Colorlines.com

In this point/counterpoint about Nate Parker’s buzzy directorial debut, two Black independent filmmakers wrestle with the notion of seeing more chains, whips and nooses on the big screen. 

Riley Wilson: “The Birth of a Nation” Didn’t Change the Game

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Climactic scene from Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation”

…On the one hand, we have a film written, directed, and starring a Black man that tells the story of an enslaved African-American by the name of Nat Turner who led the most successful slave rebellion in U.S. history. On the other hand, we have a film about slavery-again…

…(I)f you consider the rapturous reviews of “The Birth of a Nation” and the popularity of Black Lives Matter, a film studio would be silly not to invest in such a project. Black folks fighting for their rights—let alone their lives—is so in right now…

…(T)o be quite honest, I cringe every time I see a period film about this topic gain more notoriety than films that speak to the current condition of Black lives…

…(T)here are so many other stories to tell. It’s like the only way a film about the Black experience is rewarded is if it’s about the good-ole’ days of slavery…

My qualm is not with the success that “The Birth of Nation” has had so far. It’s with the lackadaisical nature of an industry that allows so many great movies from writers and directors of color to fall through the cracks…

Shantrelle P. Lewis: Nate Parker’s “The Birth of A Nation” is the Biggest Clapback Hollywood Has Ever Seen

…(M)ost of our parents, us and our children have a limited view of history—especially any involving people of African descent. We’re taught that Black history begins with slave ships, cotton gins, beatings, lynchings and rape and ends with segregated buses, water hoses, police dogs and burning crosses. This view has been exacerbated by the predominant images of Black people today, those from the minstrel shows that are reality television programs and the viral videos showing police-sanctioned murders of Black people on social media…

Beyond what the sale of Parker’s film signifies,”The Birth of a Nation” is a brilliant clapback against the first movie to use this title, D.W. Griffith’s 1915 Ku Klux Klan propaganda film…

…Give me Nat Turner. Give me Toussaint. Give me Dessalines. Give me Nanny. Give me Zumbi. Give me Boukman. Give me Tula. Give me 1811. Give me the Saamaka. Give me Sojourner. Give me Denmark. Give me Harriet. Give me all of them on the big screen, any day, any year from now until forever.

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Cover from the 1915 original “The Birth of a Nation” by D.W. Griffith

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

‘Proof of Life’ Video Shows Some of Chibok, Nigeria’s Kidnapped Girls

By Breanna Edwards, theRoot.com

Captors sent the video, which shows 15 of the girls, to negotiators, but the girls’ parents were unaware of its existence until recently.

Image from “proof of life” video showing 15 of the girls kidnapped from Chibok, Nigeria CNN SCREENSHOT

Image from “proof of life” video showing 15 of the girls kidnapped from Chibok, Nigeria. CNN SCREENSHOT

…CNN reports that the video had been seen by negotiators and some members of the government, but the parents of the girls had not seen the footage until now.

Parents watching the video broke into tears as they caught sight of the children they have not seen in over two years….

The video, which is believed to have been recorded in December 2015 as part of negotiations with terrorist group Boko Haram, was released by someone who reportedly wanted to give the girls’ parents hope that their daughters were still alive, and to push the government to do more for their release….

Toward the end of the two-minute clip, one girl, identified as Naomi Zakaria, makes the final appeal, which CNN notes may be scripted.

“I am speaking on 25 December, 2015, on behalf of the all the Chibok girls, and we are all well,” she says, emphasizing the word “all.”…

…(T)he government also acknowledged that it is not able to confirm or refute the authenticity of the footage….

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

SNL’s “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black” and How White America Went Nuts

By Angela Bronner Helm, theRoot.com

…there’s always been some speculation and lots of room for interpretation when it came to Beyoncé’s, um, ethnicity.

Beyonce with backup dancers dressed as Black Panthers during the Super Bowl halftime show.

Beyonce with backup dancers dressed as Black Panthers during the Super Bowl halftime show.

…between the blonde wigs, Creole propers and that L’Oreal ad where she self-identified as part French, Native American and black, well, one could comfortably assume that Queen Bey was just a shade black. Black-ish, even.

But all that changed the day before the Super Bowl when Yoncé dropped “Formation,” a brazen and unapologetic ode to Southern, African-American blackness and the militant love of such. The next day when she performed at the Super Bowl with her nod to the Black Panther Party and dropped the mic, Black America collectively lost its mind.

As “Formation”’s lyrics noted, “You know you that b–ch when you cause all this conversation”—there was no shortage of think pieces, critical analysis, and even criticism of the song and video…

Inevitably, there was some backlash when some people got wind of the fact that it wasn’t about them; that, and the Black Panther thing. There’s even a protest of sorts planned (and a counter protest), and silly articles and backlash against those.

Jumping right into the mix, last night Saturday Night Live inserted itself into the cultural conversation with the hilarious video, “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black,” a dark, apocalyptic movie trailer that shows what happens when white America finds out that Beyonce is, gasp, black. Watch:

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Yes, These Babies Are Actually Twins

By Cavan Sieczkowski, the Huffington Post

Anaya and Myla are 10-month-old sisters, and they are also twins. 

“Kyle is mixed-race and I’m white, so from the word go, our friends joked: ‘What would you do if one came out dark and the other was fair,'” Hannah Yarker told local news outlets, per Metro UK.

The fraternal twins — meaning two separate eggs were fertilized by two separate sperm, and developed in separate amniotic sacs — were born last April.

“[A]fter two weeks, it was clear Myla takes after her dad with dark skin, brown eyes and brunette locks, while Anaya is more of a mummy’s girl with a pale complexion, fair hair and light eyes,” she said.

And people certainly are curious about the adorable babies. “I can’t walk down the aisle at the supermarket without getting stopped,” said the mom.

…An interracial couple expecting twins has about a 1 in 500 chance of the babies having different skin tones, according to the BBC…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

 

Unpublished Black History

By ,  and

In July 1967, Newark [New Jersey] erupted with violence after rumors circulated that a black cabdriver had been beaten and killed by white police

Armed soldiers of the National Guard patrol the streets of Newark, NJ.

Armed soldiers of the National Guard patrol the streets of Newark, NJ.

officers. He was actually alive — arrested and injured — but for many black residents, it was just another example of Newark’s systemic problems with police abuse, racism, and corruption.

After six days of unrest, 23 people were dead; 725 were injured.

We described the clashes between the National Guard and black residents with the language of war. One of the front-page headlines on July 15 read, “Negroes Battle With Guardsmen.” Another declared, “Sniper Slays Policeman.”

The main photo published that day showed National Guardsmen and police officers standing over black men face down on the ground, with a caption that said the authorities were “searching for weapons and stolen merchandise.”

The photo that was not published, above, shows a calmer scene that points to the wider trauma experienced by Newarkers who were not involved in the violence, but who watched their city burn and their neighbors bleed…

The questions linger. Robert Curvin, the civil rights leader in Newark who later worked for The New York Times and the Ford Foundation,told me in 2006 that he was still haunted by the experience of trying to keep the city calm, to no avail.

“Talking about it is one of the most traumatic and painful things in my life,” said Mr. Curvin, who died last year. “The destruction of human life that I saw in those very short few days, I will never get over.”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.