CSMS Magazine StaffJames Cameron, the founder of Black Holocaust Museum and the man who survived the horror of lynching, died this Sunday. He was 92. Cameron had been suffering from lymphoma, according to Marissa Weaver, chairwoman of the Milwaukee-based museum’s board.Cameron and two of his friends were taken into custody after being accused in the murder of a white man during a robbery. He was also accused of raping the man’s companion. A mob broke them out of the local jail and hanged Cameron’s two friends, then placed a rope around his neck.”They began to chant for me like a football player, ‘We want Cameron, we want Cameron,” he recalled in a 2003 interview with The Associated Press. “I could feel the blood in my body just freezing up.” He was 16 years old earning his living as a shoeshine boy. He was spared when a man in the crowd proclaimed his innocence.In 1988, he founded the Black Holocaust Museum in a small storefront room in downtown Milwaukee. “Six years later, he took over an abandoned 12,000-square-foot gym the city sold him for $1. The museum explores the history of the struggles of blacks in America from slavery to modern day and was considered one of the first of its kind in the country.””It’s the most important thing in the world to me to carry on this fight, to explain the history that’s been hidden … from black people,” he told The Associated Press in 2003.It has been said that Cameron explained that one of his best moments came last June when the U.S. Senate issued an apology for not standing against the lynching violence that killed more than 4,700 people from 1882 to 1968, three-fourths of them black.”I was saved by a miracle,” Cameron said at the time. “They were going to lynch me between my two buddies,” he said, with thousands of people “hollering for my blood when a voice said ‘Take this boy back.'”According to Marissa Weaver, Cameron ceased to participate in the museum’s daily operations about four years ago but continued attending special events and making speaking engagements. “The museum is his legacy,” she said. “That was his life’s work — to share with the world the injustices that African-Americans have suffered while at the same time, and most importantly, providing an opportunity to repair bridges that have been suffered because of our history.”Cameron is survived by his wife, Virginia, and three of their children.
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