ABHM Co-Sponsors “Racial Justice: The Courage to Act” with Head Griot Reggie Jackson Speaking on Segregation in Milwaukee

Written by: Keith McAllister

Edited by: Zak Morse

Full house!



April 1st fell on a Saturday this year, and community members from more than 20 different churches and organizations around Milwaukee gathered at Alverno College to engage in the impactful social justice event, Racial Justice: The Courage to Act. The event left attendees with much to think about in the struggle for justice. It also illustrated efforts to build coalitions across organizations committed to racial justice in Milwaukee, including the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin, Rid Racism Milwaukee, and Unitarian Universalists (UUs) for Black Lives Matter.

For a full list of co-sponsors, visit the event page; for insights about the day’s program, check out the hashtag #Courage2Act on Twitter and Instagram.

Among the co-sponsors was
America’s Black Holocaust Museum. ABHM’s Head Griot Reggie Jackson delivered the opening address, which described the impact of  racism in Milwaukee and the struggle for justice in Milwaukee’s past and present. Jackson’s address set the tone early on for serious engagement by addressing directly the scope and severity of the city’s racial injustices.

Reggie Jackson speaking on segregation in Milwaukee.

Jackson described how Milwaukee is the most racially segregated major city in the U.S. “Milwaukee’s issues are literally killing black people.” Wisconsin is the “only state in the U.S.” where the life expectancy gap is not improving, and two thirds of the distressed population in the state is concentrated here in Milwaukee. Facts like these—and many more shown in the speaker’s presentation—are indicative of wider social and economic disparities.

The conference left us with the resoundingly clear message: more action is needed for racial justice. In light of events like Racial Justice: Courage to Act, there is a need for community members to ask hard questions, articulate lived experiences, and help reconcile historical injustices to promote justice in today’s Milwaukee.

For more about the organizations involved, explore the event’s Facebook page.

To learn more about America’s Black Holocaust Museum, please explore the virtual museum galleries.

Read more Breaking News here.


Help Bring ABHM Home! Museum’s New Space Rises in Bronzeville


 On Juneteenth Day 1988, America’s Black Holocaust Museum opened its facility in Milwaukee’s historic Bronzeville district. Thousands of schoolchildren and adults from around the world learned African American history within its walls. After its building closed in 2008, ABHM reinvented itself as an online museum serving millions of global visitors each year. And now…

The Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation* is pleased
to announce that

 •  ABHM is coming home! 

to a new building
on the site of its original location
4th and North Avenue in Milwaukee.

Please help us bring ABHM home!


flyers auction blk

A visitor reads the bills advertising slave auctions near the museum’s auction block.

Your donation – large or small –  to our Building Fund will make a big difference.

(All donations are tax-deductible.)

To discuss a NAMING OPPORTUNITY gift, please contact our Campaign Consultant, Karen Coy-Romano, at kcoyromano (at) sbcglobal(dot)net.

To make smaller donations, click here:

Donations to our Building Fund will be used for:

• Design and Construction

• Exhibit Design and Installation

• Program Development 

The Griot, an apartment building named for ABHM founder Dr. James Cameron, will open in Spring 2018 on the very site of ABHM’s former facility (1988-2008). ABHM’s new museum space will grace The Griot building’s ground floor.



ABHM’s new museum space will feature:



Please join us for the Groundbreaking Ceremony – April 4, 2017!

 The celebration will be held on Tuesday, April 4th behind the Garfield School building (2215 N. 4th Street) in the Bronzeville Neighborhood from 11:00am-1:00pm.

The program will feature Mayor Tom Barrett, Alderwoman Milele Coggs, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, WHEDA Director Winston Wyman, as well as several Milwaukee artists.

Virgil Cameron, the son of ABHM Founder Dr. James Cameron, will also speak.


About ABHM as Part of the Revitalization of Milwaukee’s Historic Bronzeville

Maures Development Group, LLC, the only female and minority-owned development business in Wisconsin, is redeveloping almost an entire block of abandoned buildings. The $17.4 million project will transform the site into a vibrant mixed-use campus as a catalyst for the reestablishment of the historically black Bronzeville neighborhood’s culture and entertainment district.

The Bronzeville community was once a thriving African American economic and cultural hub. In the 1960s, however, hundreds of homes and businesses were demolished for the proposed Park West Freeway, which was never built. Subsequently, the once-thriving commercial corridor deteriorated, as property values plummeted and buildings fell into disrepair.

The historic former Garfield school building will be redeveloped for 30 units of high-quality, mixed-income housing.

In Phase I, the school building will be reborn as the Historic Garfield Redevelopment Project, comprised of 30 units of high-quality, mixed-income housing. In Phase II, the adjoining vacant properties will be demolished and developed as the The Griot, a newly constructed building with 41 residential units and 8,000 square feet of commercial space.

The commercial space will house America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM), one of Milwaukee’s most revered cultural institutions, which shares the African American story as part of U.S. history and supports racial repair and reconciliation. The museum will re-open its doors in Spring 2018, and is projected to bring over 10,000 visitors annually into the Bronzeville neighborhood.

“The Garfield project and the re-emergence of the America’s Black Holocaust Museum are certain to be catalytic for the Bronzeville Cultural, Arts and Entertainment District,” stated Alderwoman Milele Coggs. The City of Milwaukee first identified the Garfield Project in its 2005 Bronzeville Cultural & Entertainment District Plan.

Alderwoman Milele Coggs (L) and Maures Development Group’s Melissa Goins proudly announced the historic redevelopment project in May 2016.

Located just a mile from major downtown investments, including the new Bucks Arena, the Historic Garfield redevelopment will help connect downtown’s growth to the Bronzeville neighborhood. The project is forecasted to create over 115 jobs through construction, property management and the museum. In addition, 40 city residents will receive on-the-job training through an innovative partnership with Employ Milwaukee and the Northcott Neighborhood House.

Maures Development Group, LLC, is a commercial real estate firm that has developed a reputation for innovative projects focused on historically neglected neighborhoods. From the onset, the company’s holistic strategies of combining new construction, sustainable features and social partnerships with neighborhood organizations have delivered Maures a multitude of praises for community impact.

*America’s Black Holocaust Museum is a program of the nonprofit Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation.

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.


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.


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:

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




Sherman Park youth earn stipend for cleaning up neighborhood

By Andrea Waxman- Milwaukee neighborhood News Service

Vaun Mayes (left) talks to several teens riding bikes in the neighborhood about joining the Sherman Park Youth Stipend Program. Volunteer mentor Derrick Madlock (second from left) looks on. (Photo by Andrea Waxman)

Vaun Mayes (left) talks to several teens riding bikes in the neighborhood about joining the Sherman Park Youth Stipend Program. Volunteer mentor Derrick Madlock (second from left) looks on. (Photo by Andrea Waxman)

On a recent Saturday morning, about 30 teens assembled at the edge of the playground at the Mary Ryan Boys & Girls Club in Sherman Park. Under a sparkling blue sky and vibrantly colored trees, the hoodie-clad youth picked up gloves, rakes and garbage bags and headed east to 41st Street.

The young men and women from Program the Parks, a grassroots Sherman Park youth initiative started early last summer, together with adult and teen volunteers from Running Rebels, raked leaves from the lawns of the tidy bungalows lined up across from the park and piled them in the street.

Niekale Steward, 16, comes to Program the Parks activities more than once a week to help out. He said his friends come and he has made new friends through the program.

Steward said that Vaun Mayes, founder of Program the Parks, is like a big brother to him. “He’s a strong leader. (He always wants) me to do something with my life, not just be like everybody else; not be out here stealing cars and stuff like the other teens,” Steward said.

Mayes started working with young people congregating in Sherman Park when he heard about fights taking place there early last summer. Since then he has attracted a group of volunteers and donors and has developed a schedule of activities for youth that includes free meals, games, social gatherings and skill-building sessions. People who want to donate can do so through their PayPal account.

Read the full article here

Read 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!


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.


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:

– 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.


7:00 pm

Boswell Book Company

2559 N. Downer Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53211


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.