The History & Impact of ABHM

Our History

How ABHM Came to Be

Dr. James Cameron in the museum he established at the age of 74. Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Dr. James Cameron, who survived a lynching as a teenager in 1930, dedicated his 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 American history seen through the lens of these personal experiences. He was inspired to establish the America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) in 1988 after visiting the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem. ABHM’s purpose: to promote the acknowledgement of African American history from pre-captivity to the present as an integral part of US history. Dr. Cameron believed that the truth would set Americans free and make real racial repair and reconciliation possible.

A Place of Pride in Bronzeville (1984-2008)

ABHM bdg ext

ABHM occupied this building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from 1998 to 2008.

For more than twenty years ABHM stood as a cultural cornerstone in Milwaukee’s historic Black Bronzeville neighborhood, annually educating hundreds of schoolchildren, as well as local, national and international visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It served as a point of pride and meeting place for diverse communities in an otherwise highly segregated city.

Sadly, Dr. Cameron passed away in 2006, and the museum closed during the Great Recession of 2008.

Reborn Online – and Beyond Walls (2012-present)

Four years later, a community task force picked up his mantle. They established the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation, which restored ABHM by putting it online.

Like the physical museum, ABHM’s Virtual Museum shares little-known stories chronicling six historical periods: pre-captivity in Africa, the slave ship voyages, slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and the present. It currently comprises some 3,000 web pages of exhibits consisting of interpretative text, still images and videos, original documents, music, works of art, user-generated content, and a blog aggregating history-in-the-making, as reported primarily in the black press.

More than 3.5 million educators, students, and the general public from over 200 countries click on each year. ABHM’s griots (docents) have extended its museum-beyond-walls by engaging thousands of people annually in public history programming and interracial dialogues in libraries, churches, businesses and community organizations.

Restored to a Brand New Building (Summer 2018)

ABHM will be re-established on its old footprint on 4th & North Avenue in Milwaukee WI. The apartment building above it in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood will be called The Griot, in honor of ABHM founder and lynching survivor, Dr. James Cameron.

Now America’s Black Holocaust Museum is coming home to a brand new physical facility – on the ground floor of the newly constructed Griot Building, named for Dr. Cameron – on the very footprint it previously occupied on 4th and North Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. ABHM will reopen as a vital component of the City of Milwaukee’s commitment to and investment in the Bronzeville Culture and Entertainment District. As part of a redevelopment project that includes affordable housing and community spaces, this museum will serve as a national model of how public history, arts, culture, and commerce can work in unison to spur economic growth and cultural vitality.

ABHM’s Local, National and International Impact

Desperate Racial Disparities Prevail in Milwaukee and Wisconsin

Milwaukee is the most segregated metropolitan area in the country. A study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, concluded, “Children of color face enormous barriers to educational and financial achievement — with Wisconsin ranking last in the disparity between white children and their non-white peers.”  Community leader, historian and ABHM Head Griot Reggie Jackson observes, “The black holocaust is ongoing. There is continued discrimination in housing and jobs, and schools are still segregated.” Unfortunately, Wisconsin has now become the worst place for African-American children to live.

ABHM Brings Hope for Interracial Dialogue, Repair, and Reconciliation

Located in the Milwaukee’s historically black Bronzeville District, ABHM brings a unique history, heart, authenticity, and leadership to the ongoing national conversation about our nation’s tenacious racial disparities – and helps citizens become active participants in racial repair and reconciliation.

The last thirty years have seen a global boom in memorial museums like ABHM, as people around the world struggle to make sense of and heal from traumatic periods of man’s inhumanity to man. ABHM is one of over 200 members of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, which help countries move from memory to action.

The museum’s programs reliably attract packed houses from and within diverse communities. ABHM griots (oral historian-docents) present much sought-after programs that include intergroup dialogues, workshops, lectures, multimedia presentations, panels, book talks, and arts and cultural programs. The griots’ experiences affirm Dr. Cameron’s conviction: there is a palpable hunger to learn how we got here and how we can heal our future. ABHM’s proven methods of interpreting conflicted history through facilitated dialogue provide safe spaces for delicate discussions.

The Museum’s Reach is Global in Both Physical and Cyber Spaces

Our new world-class facility will draw visitors from around the world, as did the earlier ABHM. The museum is situated on the northern edge of Milwaukee’s revitalizing downtown, near our city’s new sports arena, trolley line, conference center and other tourist attractions and accommodations.

A racially/ethnically diverse crowd speaks up at an ABHM Griot To Go presentation about the impact of segregation in Milwaukee.

ABHM’s virtual museum significantly extended our impact on national and international audiences. ABHM griots will expand their work with schools, universities, churches, community-based and arts organizations; develop curricula; lead regional and national conferences; and spearhead collaborative projects within and among groups that are racially, ethnically, socio-economically, and generationally diverse.


To support ABHM’s work, consider making a tax-deductible contribution:

• Click the button below to make an ONLINE DONATION by check*




• Become a member of our LEGACY BUILDERS SOCIETY.*

• Learn about NAMING OPPORTUNITIES* or schedule a VISIT with a CAMPAIGN TEAM MEMBER by contacting 

Karen Coy-Romano, Campaign Counsel

414-964-1843

kcoyromano (at) sbcglobal.net

Thank you so much!

*ABHM is operated by the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Unrestricted gifts are accepted at all levels and are tax-deductible.

Tech’s Whiteness Is the Problem. Are We the Solution?

By Amy L. Alexander, The Root

Last week, Twitter said it was “pausing” to reconsider the process by which it bestows the blue checkmark denoting accounts that had been “verified,” and on Wednesday the company announced it was yanking the designation from some users who occupy the neo-Nazi or nationalist bucket of grassroots white activism. The announcements came after many users, including The Root’s Monique Judge, raised hell when Twitter gavea blue checkmark to Jason Kessler, a white nationalist who helped plan the pro-Confederacy march last August in Charlottesville, Va.

While Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and his workers ruminated on the company’s account verification policies, I decided it was a good time for us to pause and think about our relationship with Twitter and other social media and technology companies. We voluntarily “contribute” our creative insights, dollars and labor to the success of these companies by buying devices and apps, uploading memes, ideas and language that trends widely. Yet in terms of the vast wealth these companies hold, disburse to employees and generate for shareholders, we get little in return.

Think of the recent moment where top lawyers for Google and its parent company, Alphabet, along with Twitter and Facebook, were summoned to Capitol Hill to testify before Senate and House committees looking into the company’s role in disseminating toxic content and ads during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

(L-R) Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch, Twitter Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, and Google Law Enforcement and Information Security Director Richard Salgado testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee, October 31, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Anti-black messaging was the secret-sauce of many of the pro-Trump, nationalist memes and messages that flooded through the popular social media channels during the 2016 election cycle. Yet somehow, the gatekeepers at Facebook and Twitter didn’t seem to notice the methodical manipulation of racial animus that already exists in America, specifically, some white Americans’ negative opinions of blacks.

The leaders and staffs of Twitter, Facebook, and other popular social media platforms missed the Russian’s exploitation of the black-white divide, an obliviousness that has precedent: black women users had long alerted Twitter officials to abusive conduct of other users, up to and including death threats. The hashtag #YourSlipIsShowing catalogs such experiences from black women dating back several years, and is readily available…at least to those interested in learning about and addressing these kind of user experiences.

But clearly, the tech company leaders were not inclined to pay attention to this area of user complaints, a strong indication that they also probably weren’t interested in the views of the few blacks and Latinx workers at their companies, either. Just look at what happened to Leslie Miley, a black former engineer at Twitter. Miley revealed in a recent interview that he had flagged tons of dubious accounts in 2015, telling his bosses that he believed they were from Ukraine or Russia, and that they appeared to be part of a coordinated campaign.

Miley was told by his bosses at Twitter to “stay in his lane,” a response that Miley says he took as a sign that the company leadership preferred to err on the side “growth numbers,” rather than on any potential harm to audiences that the bots might pose.

Meanwhile, black users of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google products infuse them with a deep coolness factor that resonates around the world. Our intellectual property and creativity is the lifeboat that floats these companies to revenue solvency, yet few of us share in the enormous economic wealth generated by these companies, not even after dozens of news stories, industry conferences, and activist’s complaints forced the companies to pledge to improve hiring and retention.

Black Americans know when something smells rotten, including the kinds of scams and shady BS that can unfold at one’s job. And, as usual, blacks and other marginalized communities have solutions. We have the brain-power, problem-solving acumen, and moral fortitude to right the ship of state.

The question is whether our concerns and advice will be heeded, and whether we can achieve full access to the genuine levers of power in the United States, including access to quality education, healthcare, voting and, most importantly in the context of the innovation ecosystem, investment capital.

Read the full article here.

It’s not just the Tech industry, either. Read how one company is beginning to acknowledge its racist past here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Why TV Writer Angela Nissel, Black Females in Hollywood Need to be Heard

By Yesha Callahan, The Root

If you took a look at the writers’ room of some of your favorite television shows, you’d be hard-pressed to find a black person, and even harder pressed to find a black woman. But for the last decade, Angela Nissel has been leaving her mark behind the scenes on shows like Scrubs, The Boondocks and, now, The Jellies—Tyler, the Creator’s Adult Swim show, which premieres Oct. 22.

Before Nissel’s foray into scripted television, she was best-known as one of the creators of Okayplayer and for her two sidesplitting memoirs that captured the essence of her formative years, and of being broke and biracial. Both The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke and Mixed: My Life in Black and Whitewere heralded by critics, as well as the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Halle Berry, and Nissel became the “it” woman of literature in the early 2000s.

Angela Nissel, Scenes from ‘The Jellies’ (Adult Swim)

It was those books that set the University of Pennsylvania grad (she graduated with a degree in medical anthropology) on her way to a career in TV. But, of course, Nissel’s ascent into television writing wasn’t easy, especially as a black woman. After being in the game for 15 years, she is still fighting her way into writers’ rooms, and she made it into The Jellies’room even though she thought she hadn’t landed the gig.

“Me being old enough to be Tyler’s aunt, I said, ‘I’ve heard of him,’ but I don’t really know him. And then I researched him. I was nervous in the meeting, but when Tyler came in, he just wanted to get to know about me. Ten minutes later, the meeting was over. I called my agent and was like, ‘I’m pretty sure I didn’t get that job; they thought I was a total nerd,’” Nissel says.

As luck talent would have it, Nissel landed the consulting-producer-and-writing gig on the series, and so her work began. And, yes, she was once again the only black woman in the writers’ room. As Nissel segues back into animation (after lending her talents to The Boondocks), she notes that writing live action and books is totally different from writing for animation, especially when it comes to the fans.

“How many f—— black cartoon characters is it on TV right now?” Tyler responded. “Name five. I’ll give you time.”

Nissel shares similar sentiments about Cornell’s newfound blackness.

“If you don’t like Cornell being black, color him another color in your head. What is wrong with people wanting to see the representation of themselves on-screen?” Nissel asks. “That’s why I think their generation will do better, and hopefully build on what my old-ass generation wasn’t able to do. Tyler is an outsider coming into this industry and wants Cornell to look like him. I don’t understand how anyone can be upset with that.”

With the success of this summer’s blockbuster hit Girls Trip, the spotlight is now shining on funny black women in front of and behind the camera. And Nissel has some savory advice for the bigwigs in Hollywood.

“I wish more people realize that having one voice in the room sometimes isn’t enough because you’re only going to get one point of view. At the end of the day, I just wish people would go outside of the neighborhoods and make friends with people who aren’t exactly like them, so they can bring that to the room if they don’t have the budget to hire 25 women,” Nissel says.

“I really want to create shows that show that women over the age of 40 still have lives, and they can be messy,” she adds. “To talk about the imbalance of women and men, like my own personal story of paying alimony. I want to tell the richness of women of color over 40 because sometimes I look on TV and we’re all dead, except for Oprah.”

The Jellies premieres on Adult Swim at 12:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 22.

Read the full article here.

Read more about the importance of black-owned media here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Philando Castile’s Legacy Of Helping His Students Pay For Lunch Lives On

Monique Judge, The Root

Philando Castile was known as a caring man at the St. Paul, Minn., school where he worked as a cafeteria supervisor. He cared so much for the children he served that he often paid for their lunches out of his own pocket when they were unable to, and now, thanks to a local college professor, that generosity will continue through a fund that has been created in Castile’s name.

(Facebook)

“No child goes hungry so we ensure that every student has breakfast and also lunch whether they can pay or not,” Stacy Koppen, Nutritional Services Director for St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS), told WCCO. “Lunches just for one elementary student are about $400 a year.”

Before Castile was killed last summer by former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop, he was always ready to help the students who were in need, Koppen told WCCO.

“When a student couldn’t pay for their lunch, a lot of times (Castile) actually paid for their lunch out of his own pocket,” Koppen said.

Inver Hills Community College professor Pam Fergus wants Castile’s generosity and caring for the students to continue.

She told WCCO, “His death changed who I am.”

Fergus normally assigns a service project to the students in her Diversity and Ethics class, but this time she came up with one of her own: Philando Feeds The Children.

The money raised through the YouCaring.com fundraiser will be used to help clear lunch debts at J.J. Hill.

As of Thursday night, more than $7,000 had been raised, and Castile’s mother, Valerie, told WCCO and Fergus that she plans to match the full amount raised with her own donation.

Read the full article here.

Read about the importance of reconciliation here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Black hair restrictions in schools are a return to the Black Codes

By David A. Love, TheGrio.com

…As kids throughout the country get out of school for the summer, it is a perfect time to reflect on all of the Black children who, over the course of the past semester, have been punished, disciplined or otherwise called out and singled out for wearing braids, locks, natural hair or any other culturally expressive hairstyle. Studying while Black, apparently, is a thing.

The Cook sisters at Fenway Park.

Consider some of the outrageous incidents that have taken place. In the Boston area, 15-year-old twin sisters faced detention and suspension for wearing braids, which their charter school claimed was a violation of the dress code. Mya and Deanna Cook, sophomores at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Mass., were banned from the prom and stripped of their extracurricular activities and sports team privileges for violating the school’s prohibition on wearing extensions.

…[In] 2009, a white Milwaukee teacher cut off the braid of Lamya Cannon, 7, because the girl was playing with her hair. After cutting off Lamya’s hair in front of the class, the teacher sent the girl back to her desk. Would this ever happen to a white girl with pigtails? And could we ever envision a Black teacher doing this to said white girl?…

Tiona Norris, a self-described “unapologetically black mom” of a young schoolgirl, tweeted this note from her daughter’s teacher and commented, factually,  that coconut oil has no stinky smell.

These days, when some in white America claim they are taking their country back, all the way up to the White House, it is no accident that Black children are punished for their Blackness. We know the studies about the disproportionate discipline against Black children, and black girls in particular. This is part of the school-to-prison pipeline, a regime of punishment following kids through adulthood. Most of all, it is an effort to monitor their bodies, not unlike the Black Codes established during Jim Crow to restrict the activities and labor of Black people and maintain white supremacy….

These codes, like the so-called dress codes in place at some schools today, serve the same purpose–to normalize whiteness and criminalize Blackness. When schools tell Black children the hair God gave them is an issue of bad hygiene and grooming, what they mean is they think Black people and their hair are less desirable. Some things never change. Institutional racism, not the hair, must change.

Read David A. Love’s article for TheGrio.com in its entirety here.

Read about how Black people are disproportionately punished in other institutions here.

Read about the Five Pillars of Jim Crow here.

Read about the education of Black children in the Jim Crow South here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Harvard Will Hold School’s First Ever Black Commencement

By Taryn Finley

Huffington Post Black Voices

(Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Black students at Harvard University are getting their kente cloth stoles ready for a special graduation ceremony: an all-black commencement.

Two days before the general university graduation, black students will celebrate the obstacles they’ve overcome and the accomplishments they’ve made despite racial issues they face at their Ivy League. More than 170 students and 530 guests have confirmed their attendance to the May 23 celebration, according to The Boston Globe.

Though black students have held separate graduations at predominantly white institutions before, Black Commencement 2017 will be Harvard’s first university-wide graduation ceremony honoring students of the African diaspora. Student organizers raised more than $27,000 to pay for the ceremony and reception. Though this year’s celebration includes mostly graduate students, organizers hope to expand the event to include undergraduates next year.

At a time when students are pressuring Harvard to reckon with its role in slavery and address current racial issues on campus, they see a separate ceremony as a way to reaffirm and uplift their community.

Read the entire article here

Read more Breaking News here

Google partners with Howard University to develop future black engineers

From: The Grio

Recently, Google announced the beginning of a new program partnered with Howard University. The new program is part of an effort to recruit more young black minds and promote greater diversity in the engineering industry.

As The Grio writes in their article,Howard has opened a campus at the Googleplex, called Howard West, ‘a physical space on campus where Howard students and Googlers can grow together,’ and hopefully will encourage diversity in a field that sorely needs it.”from Google/Justin Sullivan via Good Black News

from Google/Justin Sullivan via Good Black News

This program stands as a step in the right direction, advancing the diversification of Silicon Valley while investing in the futures of young black men and women. Google has hopes to expand the program to other Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

To read more about the program, or for more information on Howard University and Google’s new partnership, head here.

Read more about the importance of community diversification and understanding past-to-present racial segregation here.

Horror Film About Racism Earns Coveted 100 Percent On Rotten Tomatoes

From: Huffington Post Black Voices

Written By: Carla Herreria

Herreria writes:

“‘Get Out,’ a psychological thriller about racism written and directed by Peele, earned a coveted 100-percent score on the film review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.”

In a recent post, “Horror Film About Racism Earns Coveted 100 Percent On Rotten Tomatoes,Carla Herreria expresses critics’ reviews in a newly released horror film titled Get Out that frames racism as the central plot.  

The author also quotes Jordan Peele:

“It just seemed to be a very taboo piece of the discussion to talk about something so horrific as racism in any type of genre other than a film about slavery or something.”

Finally, she quotes Variety critic Peter Debruge’s review:

“[The film] delivers ‘a gloriously twisted thriller that simultaneously has so much to say about the state of affairs in post-Obama America.’”

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

My Black History: The Case for Black Art in an Anti-Presidential Era

From: The Root

Authored by: Maiysha Kai

Anastasia_Aleksieieva for iStock

InMy Black History: The Case for Black Art in an Anti-Presidential Era”, Maiysha Kai explains the power black art holds in the current political state of the United States.

She explains how, “The Black Arts Movement that followed was a direct response to the loss of our most prominent leaders of the 1960s, as well as our subsequent rejection of the desire to assimilate into any American culture invested in our marginalization. Even hip-hop has origins in the response of black and brown youths to a society that simultaneously disenfranchised and criminalized them en masse, the tenor of which would come to a head in the turbulent rise of “gangsta rap” in the 1990s.” 

Kai explains how African American’s are empowered through their art; letting their art speak social change by being an “expression of resistance but also a visible and visceral expression of the human experience.”

With the loss of an African American President, there is widespread “post-black”  and “post-racial” which in turn is leading to the “rise of black art in America.”

Read more Breaking News from ABHM here!

To read the full article, check out The Root!

Attending College Doesn’t Close Wage Gap and Other Myths

From: The Root (February 6, 2017)
Written By: Kirsten West Savali

In a recent post, “Attending College Doesn’t Close Wage Gap and Other Myths Exposed in New Report,” Kirsten West Savali exposes the sad truths from a study published titled, “Asset Value of Whiteness” that unravels the relationship between race, class, and education.

Source: Asset Value of Whiteness

 

She writes:

“Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy take a deep dive into the intrinsic link between racism and capitalism; specifically, how whiteness infests the so-called American dream and renders it inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t meet the pre-selected criteria.”

Savali quotes Amy Traub, who is the co-author of the report:

“For centuries, white households enjoyed wealth-building opportunities that were systematically denied to people of color. Today our policies continue to impede efforts by African-American and Latino households to obtain equal access to economic security.”

Read the full article here.

While more covert, this sort of “asset value” mirrors the Jim Crow Laws. For an historical, yet contemporary look at discrimination, visit here.

Read more Breaking News here