My First Visit to ABHM

GRIOT: Richard Prestor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Richard Prestor as he appeared when he first visited the museum in 1988.

An article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel announced the opening date of a new museum; America’s Black Holocaust Museum. “What is that about?” I wondered, “And what is a Black Holocaust?” There was something written about lynching. Lynching? I was not sure that word had ever been said aloud by any teacher in all my grade school or high school years. Now this Mr. Cameron says that he actually survived being lynched. I had to meet him and see his museum. A few weeks later, in July 1988, I arrived at the museum. The building’s address was on Wright Street, just a few yards west of N. Doctor M.L. King Drive. A sign identified the building as the Sultan Muhammad Islamic Center. I saw no sign for the museum. After knocking on the Wright street door, a young man opened it and slowly looked me up and down as I asked him if the Black Holocaust Museum was there. He simply nodded and pointed me up a set of stairs a few feet away.

The stairway opened into an expansive, open, second-floor room, with large windows facing east. Across the old hardwood floor, an elderly, gentle-looking man was walking toward me. His was not the broadly smiling approach of a public attraction manager, but rather, Mr. Cameron came forward with the easy, amiable walk of someone greeting a recently-made friend. His smile was warm and welcoming.

James Cameron in his new museum at its dedication in 1988. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

I said, “Hi. I came to see your museum.” He introduced himself as we shook hands, and he thanked me for coming. He asked how I had heard about his museum, and I told of the article, explaining that I knew nothing more about it. He nodded and asked if I had a little time to talk. “Sure,” I replied.

I noticed that the large room had no other visitors and there were few exhibits. There were three or four big glass display cases, maybe six or seven feet tall [as I seem to remember them now], plus some poster sized photographs.

James Cameron revisiting the jail cell in Marion, Indiana, from which he was dragged by a mob to the lynching tree on which two friends had already been hanged on August 7, 1930. Johnson Publishing Co.

Mr. Cameron began telling me his story, pretty much from the beginning, as we slowly walked toward one of the display cases. He was not describing events, like a lecturer might; he was retelling personal memories, as if he was recounting old details and emotions with a friend.

Being a complete stranger to him, I felt a little awkward about that at first, but the more we walked and he talked, the more I became aware that he was not saying anything angry or bitter about his painful past. He was quietly happy to just have someone willing to listen and be supportive. He wanted people to learn and understand.

We never stopped at any particular display case to discuss items within. I asked only simple questions relating to his story. We drifted slowly around. He occasionally pointed to a photo or mentioned some item that related, but telling the story was all important.

With his book, A Time of Terror: A Survivor's Story, circa 1994. Courtesy of the Cameron Family.

With his book, A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story, circa 1994. Courtesy of the Cameron Family.

Nearing the end, Mr. Cameron said he had written his story and published a book titled, A Time of Terror. Realizing that I’d already been visiting for over twenty minutes and would need to leave soon, I asked if I could buy his book right there. He smiled a Yes and went to get a copy.

Returning with it, he asked if he could sign it for me.   He was a humble gentleman.

On the title page, he wrote,

I treasure my early visit with him, and I’ve kept his special book in a safe place ever since.

Google Launches ‘Lynching In America’ Project Exploring Country’s Violent Racial History

By Zeba Blay, huffingtonpost.com

GOOGLE/EJI. “Confronting the legacy of racial terror.”

The history of lynching and racial terror in America is the focus of an ambitious new project launched Tuesday by Google, in partnership with the Equal Justice Initiative.

Google has helped create a new interactive site titled “Lynching in America,” which is based on an 80-page publication by the EJI. Its research has been adapted into a powerful visual narrative about the horror and brutality that generations of black Americans have faced.

The site consists of audio stories from the descendants of lynching victims, and a documentary short called “Uprooted,” which chronicles the impact of lynching on black families. The project also includes an interactive map that details locations of racial terror lynchings, complete with profiles of the victims and the stories behind their deaths….

“Google has been able to take what we know about lynching, and what we have heard from the families, and what we have seen in the spaces and the communities where these acts of terror took place, and make that knowledge accessible to a lot more people,” said Bryan Stevenson, founder of EJI, in a press release. “To create a platform for hearing and understanding and seeing this world that we’ve lived through.”

To read the full article click here.

To learn more about this project click here.

To read more Breaking news click here.

MS Rep. Karl Oliver issues statement on “lynching” post he made on Facebook

By Waverly McCarthy and Courtney Ann Jackson, MS News Now

Rep. Karl Oliver of Mississippi

With one click to post to Facebook, Representative Karl Oliver ignited a firestorm of controversy. The post noted that those in Louisiana taking down the monuments should be LYNCHED, in all capital letters.

The post said: “The destruction of these monuments, erected in the loving memory of our family and fellow Southern Americans, is both heinous and horrific. If the, and I use this term extremely loosely, “leadership” of Louisiana wishes to, in a Nazi-ish fashion, burn books or destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY, they should be LYNCHED! Let it be known, I will do all in my power to prevent this from happening in our State.”

A couple of his colleagues went ahead and hit “Like” on the post. It came to a head Monday morning, though, with leadership stepping in.

“I called him immediately and said this is not acceptable,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “This is inappropriate. And you need to apologize for this.”

“I think his comment was inappropriate and I think it’s foolish,” added Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.

“The first two words out of my mouth and my statement or, I condemn his statements,” noted Gunn. “That’s the strongest word I could come up with is condemnation. If there’s a stronger word, I’ll keep searching for it.”

Oliver’s original Facebook posted, now taken down.

Don’t bother going to Facebook to look for that original post. It’s since been deleted. But by mid-afternoon Monday, Oliver seems to have deleted all his Facebook content or at least changed his privacy settings. Now, all you can see is his profile picture, cover photo and the apology.

His apology reads: 

I, first and foremost, wish to extend this apology for any embarrassment I have caused to both my colleagues and fellow Mississippians. In an effort to express my passion for preserving all historical monuments, I acknowledge the word “lynched” was wrong. I am very sorry. It is in no way, ever, an appropriate term. I deeply regret that I chose this word, and I do not condone the actions I referenced, nor do I believe them in my heart. I freely admit my choice of words was horribly wrong, and I humbly ask your forgiveness. Karl Oliver

His post, which had been shared over 240 times and received over 450 comments, spread quickly, finding it’s way to hundreds of people who have called him out as being a racist.

To see the original story and video report and read comments posted to MS News Now, click here.

For more Breaking News, click here.

Ceremony Of Remembrance Commemorates Brutal Lynching One Hundred Years Ago

How Does a City Choose to Remember its Past?

Griots: Maria Cunningham and Jordan Davis

Many are unfamiliar with the 1854 abolitionist rescue of Joshua Glover, an African American who escaped slavery and found sanctuary in Wisconsin. On March 11, 1854, Joshua Glover was broken out of Milwaukee’s jail by a large crowd in resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Far fewer know about the horrific racial lynching of George Marshall Clark, a free black man, that happened only seven years later in Milwaukee. On September 8th, 1861, Marshall Clark was lynched by an angry white crowd in the Milwaukee’s Third Ward–after being broken out of the same jail that Joshua Glover was freed from. What was their story, and how have we remembered these two men?

An April 24, 1851 poster warning the “colored people of Boston” about policemen acting as slave catchers.

The Capture and Rescue of Joshua Glover

In 1854, Milwaukee abolitionists defied the law to rescue Joshua Glover. Glover, a former enslaved African American from Missouri, found sanctuary in the State of Wisconsin in 1852, less than ten years before the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War.

From 1830 and 1860, at least 1,000 African Americans would escape southern slavery per year, risking their lives and often leaving loved ones and families. Documenting the narratives of the Underground Railroad, however, is extremely difficult for historians. Due in part to the secrecy of the practice, a limited material record was left by abolitionists and formerly enslaved African Americans able to reach freedom. The rescue of Joshua Glover, however, drew the City of Milwaukee into a national debate over slavery, race, and the rights of African Americans both enslaved and free.

Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, which gave slaveholders a legal right to capture runaway African Americans residing in the North and return them south of the Mason-Dixon line–a law compelling every citizen to aid in their arrest. When Bennami Garland of St. Louis (Glover’s alleged owner) made his case in February, 1854,  he received a court order and a warrant for Glover’s arrest. After learning about Glover’s residence in nearby Racine, Wisconsin, Glover was apprehended and brought to the Milwaukee courthouse and jail originally located at the present-day site of Cathedral Square Park.

Rescue and Freedom

The old Milwaukee County Jail and Courthouse
Historic Photo Collection / Milwaukee Public Library

Gathering at the footsteps of the courthouse, Wisconsin abolitionists and other opponents to the Fugitive Slave Act actively resisted a federal law which they considered to be unconstitutional. While the primary avenue for challenging Glover’s arrest and the Fugitive Slave Act was undertaken by lawyers and judges, the several thousand gathered outside the Milwaukee courthouse and jail would mount a different kind of resistance to Glover’s plight.

On the eve of March 11th, 1854, a crowd of close to 5000 would break into Milwaukee’s jail, rescue the captured Glover, and help him escape to Canada through the Underground Railroad. And while Sherman Booth (Milwaukee’s most prominent abolitionist) would be brought to court for his participation in Glover’s rescue, Glover’s story set in motion a profound change in the political landscape: in 1855, Wisconsin’s Supreme Court became the first and only high legal body to declare the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 unconstitutional–a ruling later overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet what occurred in Wisconsin in 1854 was not entirely unique. Black and white northerners across the nation defied the Fugitive Slave Act in myriad ways, and often at considerable risk and without the support the majority of the populace. Joshua Glover would spend the next 34 years in Canada and freedom until his death in 1888.

The Capture and Murder of Marshall Clark

The lynching of George Marshall Clark (his full name) was one of sixteen lynchings in Wisconsin history. Clark was the only African American to have been lynched in the state and the only lynching to happen in the city of Milwaukee. George Marshall Clark, who went by Marshall Clark, was 22 years old and an apprentice barber under his father George H. Clark. His father was a leading figure in the black community and was described as a “very respectable man.”

1860 census showing James Shelton and Marshall Clark (Ancestry.com)

 

The trouble began the evening of Friday, September 6th, 1861 Marshall Clark and his friend James Shelton were walking in downtown Milwaukee escorting two white women. Shelton, 28, was a waiter at a nearby ice cream establishment. He was described as a man with “a quiet, orderly disposition” who “hardly ever drinks anything.” Clark and Shelton lived together near 5th and State.

Two Irishmen, Dabney Carney and John Brady, seeing the young men with the women made a remark about white women with “damned niggers” to which the men took offense. A fight began between the four men ending when Shelton pulled a knife and stabbed Carney in the abdomen and slashed Brady. Clark and Shelton ran but were later captured and placed in the county jail. Dabney Carney died from his wounds on Saturday evening. Before Carney died, he identified Shelton as the man who had stabbed him.

Capture and Murder

News about Carney’s death spread fast and the city’s Irish population set out for revenge. A fire alarm sounded as a signal and within an hour, a mob had gathered and headed for the jail.

Police Chief William Beck and two other patrolmen tried to disperse the crowd but were unsuccessful. The Chief was received a blow to the head which knocked him unconscious. Seeing what happened to the Chief, the jailer, William Kendrick, locked the main door to the cells. The mob grabbed some heavy timber and after eighteen barges, was able to break down the iron door.

Illustration of the event published in the April 3rd, 1893 edition of the Milwaukee Daily Sentinel

Clark and Shelton were housed at the back of the jail in a room next to two adjoining cells. When Shelton heard the crowd coming, he slipped into one of the adjoining cells, closed the door, and hid leaving Clark alone with the crowd. The violent crowd beat and dragged Clark out of the cell and into the street.

The mob dragged Clark down toward Engine Company No. 9 near the Milwaukee River pausing once under a gas light to make sure they had the right person. Despite Clark’s pleas that he was not Shelton and had nothing to do with the murder, the mob convinced they had the right man, dragged the victim into the firehouse where they conducted a “fair and lawful trial”. Shortly after, the mob re-emerged from the firehouse with Clark, who had a rope around his neck. When the crowd reached Buffalo St., they found a pile driver that would suit their needs. The end of the rope was secured to the top and at 2:30 A.M. Marshall Clark was shoved off the ladder and left to swing. His body was not removed for another two hours.

Despite Milwaukee being an abolitionist stronghold, during the early 1800s, the black community experienced an ever growing hostility from the city’s ethnic groups, particularly the Irish.   One year earlier, on exactly the same date and time that Clark was lynched, Milwaukee’s Irish community lost a large portion of their community in one of the worst marine wrecks to occur in the Great Lakes. The Lady Elgin, a steamer ship on its way back from a Democratic rally in Chicago, was hit by the schooner Augusta of Oswego and sank off the coast of Hubbard Woods. Over 300 passengers lost their lives and many bodies were never recovered. The majority of the ship’s passengers were members or family members of the  Irish Union Guard of Milwaukee’s Third Ward. The Irish population felt this loss acutely as many of its most prominent citizens were gone all at once. The death of Dabney Carney was the spark that inflamed the already agitated community.

Aftermath

James Shelton, who had escaped the jail and fled the city, was captured in Waukesha and rearrested the following Tuesday. He was returned to Milwaukee for trial. Shelton’s trial lasted nine days and the jury returned a verdict of not-guilty claiming Shelton had acted in self-defense. After the trail, Shelton was snuck out of town and established residence in Chicago.

The State of Wisconsin charged six men with the lynching of Marshall Clark. They were John McCormick, Patt McLaughlin, Dennis Delury, John Devine, James O’Brien, and a man named Nichols. When the trial began on November 14, 1861, Nichols had fled the city. After three days of testimony, the case was turned over to the jurors. After two and a half days of deliberation, they were unable to reach a final verdict. The trial for the only lynching in Milwaukee history resulted in a “hung jury”.

A Community Remembers?

The Joshua Glover historical marker at Cathedral Square Park.

In 2001, the Wisconsin Historical Society installed a historical marker commemorating the rescue of Joshua Glover in Cathedral Square Park. In 2005, a mural of Glover’s rescue and escape was installed downtown on Fond Du Lac Avenue under the I-43 overpass, a former route of the Underground Railroad. Both the rescue of Joshua Glover and the racial lynching of Marshall Clark had a dramatic impact on the city and Milwaukee’s emerging African American community—yet only one is commemorated. How does a society select what events are commemorated? Should we only remember stories that support our sense of interracial cooperation or progressive values, or should we also commemorate the horrific events of racial trauma that complicate our uplifting stories of the past? As a city, we have chosen to remember Joshua Glover. Should we remember Clark?

 

 

Jordan Davis serves as the Public Programming Administrative Assistant for America’s Black Holocaust Museum. Mr. Davis is a Distinguished Graduate Student Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the Master of Sustainable Peacebuilding program. His research interests center on public and local history, heritage resource management, and the museology of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Maria Cunningham is an active volunteer with America’s Black Holocaust Museum as serves as Vice-President of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation. Ms. Cunningham works as a Rare Books Librarian, and led the project to digitize the self-published pamphlets of Dr. James Cameron. She also created and manages a traveling exhibit about Dr. Cameron’s life and writings for the museum.

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:   Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Baker, H. Robert. The Rescue of Joshua Glover: A Fugitive Slave, the Constitution, and the Coming of the Civil War. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006.

Foner, Eric. “What the Fugitive Slave Act Teaches Us About How States Can Resist Oppressive Federal Power.” The Nation, February 8, 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.thenation.com/article/what-the-fugitive-slave-act-teaches/.

Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad. New
York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2016.

Kammen, Carol. On Doing Local History, Third Edition, Pages 50-55. Rowan & Littlefield Publishers, 2014.

“Hung to a Pile Driver.” Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, 2 Apr. 1893, p. 24. Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers, tinyurl.galegroup.com/tinyurl/4BMoP9. Accessed 3 Jan. 2017.

National Park Service. “Joshua Glover Rescue Site.” NPS program Network to Freedom. Retrieved from:
https://www.nps.gov/subjects/ugrr/ntf_member/ntf_member_details.htm?SPFID=4072649&SPFTerritory=NULL&SPFType=NULL&SPFKeywords=NULL

Vollmar, William J. “The Negro in a Midwest Frontier City, Milwaukee: 1835-1870.” Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School, Marquette University, Pages 65 to 72. Accessed November 14, 2016, from http://www.marquette.edu/library/theses/already_uploaded_to_IR/vollm_w_1968.pdf

 

 

 

Georgia Police Chief, Other White Leaders Apologize for 1940 Lynching

Griot: Karen Branan

Ernest Ward, president of the Troup County NAACP, (left) and LaGrange Police Chief Louis Dekmar have organized an event of acknowledgement in the 1940’s kidnapping and murder of Austin Callaway, 18. (Photo By: Melanie Ruberti | LaGrange Daily News)

On January 26, 2017 the police chief of Lagrange, Georgia, along with the city’s mayor, a judge, and a college president, representing the white business community, issued an apology for the 1940 lynching of teenaged Austin Callaway. The apology was issued to NAACP Pres. Ernest Ward and to members of Callaway’s family. Special mention was made of the church’s minister Rev. W.L. Strickland, who took his own life in his hands when he not only spoke out to a silent city against the lynching but wrote Thurgood Marshall, then legal counsel for the national NAACP for help, and started the Lagrange NAACP chapter.

On March 18, 2017, a local citizens organization, Troup Together, assisted by the Equal Justice Initiative of Montgomery, AL, will place a memorial marker to Callaway and other African Americans lynched in that county at Vernon Memorial.

A Sept. 9, 1940, article in The New York Times about the lynching of Austin Callaway. The fatal cruelties inflicted upon him are to be acknowledged Thursday evening. (The New York Times)

Before the Lagrange apology only one public official, the mayor of Waco, Texas, has taken responsibility for a lynching in his jurisdiction. Never has a police chief done so. In Lagrange, Chief Lou Dekmar said, “Most lynchings would not have happened if the police had done their jobs.”  Officials who spoke emphasized their determination to work for improved race relations on all levels. The service was covered by the New York Times, CBS, NBC, CNN, and NPR.

Karen Branan is the author of The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, A Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth. She has been involved with the Lagrange effort for over a year. The lynchings detailed in her book occurred just 20 miles from that of Austin Callaway.

At ABHM’s Founder’s Day for Racial Repair and Reconciliation 2017, Karen will present about how her discoveries about her family’s complicity in a lynching unleashed her anti-racism activism.

Join abhm this wednesday for a book talk @ the villard square library!

Meet Reggie Jackson, Robert S. Smith and Fran Kaplan, co-contributors to the third edition of A Time of Terror: A Survivor's Story

Meet Reggie Jackson, Robert S. Smith and Fran Kaplan, co-contributors to the third edition of A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story

Join us this Wednesday, December 14th from 6:00- 7:00 p.m. at the Villard Square Library for a book talk on Dr. Cameron’s autobiography A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story. Meet Reggie Jackson, Robert S. Smith and Fran Kaplan, co-contributors to the third edition of A Time of Terror by the late Dr. James Cameron and the only account of a lynching ever written by a survivor. The program will include readings from the book, an explanation of how it came to be, and a discussion of its relevance for today’s readers. A book signing by the co-contributors will follow the event.

Read more Breaking News here

“Always In Season” Film on Lynching and Restoration to Screen in Milwaukee

A scene from the film showing the annual lynching re-enactment at Moore's Ford Bridge in Georgia.

For almost a century, tens of thousands of men, women, and children attended the lynchings of more than 4,000 African Americans that often included torture, mutilation and photography. This form of racial violence occurred in every state across the U.S. but four, and for reasons as arbitrary as sheer boredom. Lynchings were at times highly organized and akin to the sport of hunting, and blacks were “always in season.”

Independent filmmaker Jacqueline (Jackie) Olive produced and directed "Always in Season" as a part of her transmedia project about lynching – its healing and prevention.

Independent filmmaker Jacqueline (Jackie) Olive produced and directed “Always in Season” as a part of her transmedia project about lynching – its healing and prevention.

Always in Season is a film with Danny Glover by ABHM friend and colleague Jacqueline Olive (producer/director). It will be shown on PBS (public television) channels around the country in early 2017.

Always in Season will be the centerpiece of ABHM’s 2017 Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation on February 25, 2017. Director Jackie Olive and representatives of the communities featured in the film  will show the movie and answer audience questions in a talkback. Then they and local activists doing similar work will meet with participants in small breakout groups to dialogue about the issues raised by their healing community projects to commemorate lynchings. For more info about this event, contact dr.fran@abhmuseum.org.

Why is it important to talk about lynching today?

Always in Season is a transmedia documentary project that ties the facts of lynching to the present with a feature film that encourages viewers to consider where their own family stories intersect with this difficult chapter in American history. With intimate stories of relatives of the perpetrators, victims, and others–along with the collection of photographs spectators took with the victims called Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in AmericaAlways in Season shows how lynching still impacts Americans and follows the efforts of descendants and others in four communities who are seeking justice and healing as they work to acknowledge the victims, repair the damage, and reconcile.

Descendants of lynching victims and perpetrators work together for repair and healing at the memorial in downtown Duluth MN. This plaza acknowledges the lynching of three young black men there.

Descendants of lynching victims and perpetrators work together for repair and healing at the memorial in downtown Duluth MN. This plaza acknowledges the lynching of three young black men there.

These stories demonstrate the impact of past and current racial terrorism on our country today.

Ever wonder about the choices you’d make if you lived during this time in history?

Always in Season Island uses an immersive, role-playing virtual world environment to give users an experiential look at the choices and circumstances that brought 10,000 men, women and children out in Marion, Indiana to watch the 1930 lynching of Abe Smith, Thomas Shipp, and the 16-year old who narrowly escaped, James Cameron. Not only will this interactive 3D environment give visitors insights into the multiple perspectives of many of the people involved in the events in Marion, but they can also learn how their actions can contribute to or prevent racism and violence in a safe, facilitated virtual world space. To learn more about Always in Season Island, click here.

To fund the completion of  this project or to find out more, click here.

To read more Breaking News, click here.

Hundreds Dedicate Lynching Marker to Anthony Crawford in Abbeville, South Carolina

By the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) – October 24, 2016

This weekend, community members, college students, and supporters from near and far gathered in Abbeville, South Carolina, to commemorate and reflect upon the 100th anniversary of a tragic event: the lynching of Anthony P. Crawford.

On Friday, hundreds gathered in Abbeville’s Jefferson Davis Park for a Freedom School, during which students from Kenyon College and Clemson University, activists, and leaders led discussions about our country’s history of racial injustice and its contemporary legacies. Those present included more than 100 of Anthony Crawford’s descendants, who wore black armbands and buttons in his memory, as well as members of the families of Emmett Till, Ida B. Wells, and Malcolm X, who came to lend support and words of encouragement.

The plaque, dedicated October 24, 2016, commemorating lynching victim Anthony Crawford, in Abbeville, South Carolina.

The day’s events culminated with a ceremony during which family members collected soil from the site where Mr. Crawford was lynched, and a consecration service in the Abbeville town square led by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in anticipation of the unveiling of a historical marker commemorating the lynching. The soil collection for Mr. Crawford was part of EJI’s Community Remembrance Project, a campaign to recognize the victims of lynching by collecting soil from lynching sites and creating a memorial that acknowledges the horrors of racial injustice in America.

A century ago, a white mob beat, stabbed, shot, and hung Mr. Crawford, a 56-year-old black farmer, in the Abbeville town square, after he dared to argue with a white merchant over the price of cottonseed. The patriarch of a large, multi-generational family, and the owner of 427 acres of land, Mr. Crawford was a successful farmer and leader whose murder had long-reaching effects. [Visit the commemoration of Anthony Crawford’s life in ABHM’s Memorial to the Victims of Lynching here.]

The gruesome public murder, though committed openly, did not lead to prosecution or conviction for any members of the mob.  Days after the lynching, Abbeville’s white residents “voted” to expel the Crawford family from the area and seize their property. When South Carolina’s governor declared himself powerless to protect the family from violence, most of the surviving relatives fled to destinations as distant as New York and Illinois, fragmenting the once strong and close-knit family.

Soil collected from the site of the lynching of Anthony Crawford, as part of the commemoration project of the Equal Justice Initiative.

Soil collected from the site of the lynching of Anthony Crawford, as part of the commemoration project of the Equal Justice Initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It would take ongoing efforts over generations to begin to repair and reconnect those bonds through family reunions and the persistence of family elders who ensured that the younger generations saw Grandpa Crawford’s photograph at family gatherings and knew the story of both his life and death. This weekend, descendants of Anthony Crawford from as far as California, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Texas, and New York – as well as some who remain in Abbeville today – gathered for a powerful commemoration event.

Doria D. Johnson, descendant of Anthony Crawford, is a public historian and a 2016 Nelson Mandela Fellow.

Doria D. Johnson, descendant of Anthony Crawford, is a public historian and a 2016 Nelson Mandela Fellow.

Doria Johnson was born in Chicago, 45 years after her great-great-grandfather’s lynching forced her family to flee north with Doria’s young grandmother wrapped in newspaper to shield her from the cold. Addressing the crowd in Abbeville this weekend, Ms. Johnson recalled how the beautiful photo of Grandpa Crawford and the painful story of his death shaped a curiosity and determination that stayed with her. As a young woman, she called the Abbeville church where Anthony Crawford had been a leader before his death, and found herself speaking to Phillip Crawford, a cousin she’d never known she had. From there, she helped lead more conversations, and research led to advocacy, publicity, and a push for public recognition that has now come to fruition.

[Ms. Johnson will keynote ABHM’s 2017 Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation, exploring the ethics and impacts of memory work and commemoration of traumatic events on victims, witnesses, perpetrators and descendants. For more information about the event, write info@abhmuseum.org)…

EJI is honored to partner with the descendants of Anthony Crawford to sponsor the historical marker and essay contest for high school students in Abbeville as part of our Lynching Marker Project. EJI continues to seek opportunities to work with communities where lynchings occurred to raise public awareness and erect historical markers.

Read the full article here.

More Breaking News here.

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.