Marion Indiana, 1930
James Cameron is founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum and America's only living survivor of a lynching.
In August, 1930 when Cameron was 16 years old, he was falsely accused of participating in the murder of a young white man in Marion, Indiana.
As a result, Cameron witnessed a mob of 15,000 people beat and lynch his two friends.
Miraculously, Cameron survived his severe beating and attempted lynching; however, he was immediately sentenced to four years in the state prison for accessory before the fact to manslaughter. Ironically, no one was ever accused, arrested or charged with the murder of Cameron's teenage friends, nor for the beating Cameron suffered.
Because of this personal experience, Cameron dedicated his life to promoting civil rights, racial peace, unity and equality. His commitment is evident by his founding of three NAACP chapters in Indiana during the 1940s, and becoming the first president of the NAACP Madison County Branch in Anderson, Indiana.
Cameron also served as the Indiana State Director of Civil Liberties from 1942-1950. In this capacity Cameron reported to then Governor of Indiana , Henry Shricker on violations of the "equal accommodations" laws to end previously mandated segregation.
During his eight-year tenure, Cameron investigated over 25 incidents of civil rights infractions and faced many acts of violence and death threats for his work.
Repeated threats of violence against his family forced Cameron to relocate to his birth state of Wisconsin in the early 1950s. Cameron continued his work in civil rights by assisting in protests to end segregated housing in the City of Milwaukee.
During the 1960's, Cameron participated in both marches on Washington--the first with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the second with Dr. King's widow Coretta and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
During the seventies Cameron published literally hundreds of articles and booklets detailing civil rights and occurrences of racial injustices.
In 1988, Cameron founded America's Black Holocaust Museum to document racial injustices suffered by people of African heritage.
Fifteen years later, the Museum continues to grow in prominence and scope -- however, of all his prized possessions, Cameron most cherishes a single letter received on February 3,1993 --- 62 years after his conviction. The letter grants a pardon and public apology from the State of Indiana.