Black Holocaust Museum restored
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 10/8/2018, 11:55 a.m.
Despite blazing heat on a morning in June, the 400 in attendance were smiling, happy to see America’s Black Holocaust Museum restored to the Milwaukee corner it had long anchored, in a new home, reports Milwaukee Magazine.
A social justice organizer and the only known survivor of a lynching founded the museum. In 1930, 16-year-old James Cameron was nearly murdered in Marion, Indiana, for a crime he didn’t commit; he devoted his adult life to telling his story. He settled in Milwaukee in 1952. And in 1988, he bought an empty North Side boxing gym from the City of Milwaukee for a dollar to open the America’s Black Holocaust Museum. That location closed in 2008, and in the decade since has existed as a virtual museum with more than 3.5 million people a year from more than 200 countries visiting its six online galleries.
When the museum reopens next month, it will be led by a board chaired by Ralph Hollman, and interim executive Brad Pruitt. The new museum will complement the online experience by continuing the late Cameron’s vision of illuminating the experience of Black people, starting before slavery, through the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, and into life today.
“We’ll also have community space, programs that initiate dialogue and partnerships with local entities,” Pruitt says. Today, Cameron still draws a national lens to a conversation about race. He believed that truth would set Americans free and make racial reconciliation possible. Residents have welcomed a return of history and truth to North and Vel Phillips avenues..