- Today, we pause to remember Hiram R. Revels, the first Black U.S. Senator, who took his oath of office 1870. A Republican, Revels represented Mississippi during the Reconstruction Era. Born a “free person of color,” Revels had helped organize two regiments of the United States Colored Troops and served as a chaplain during the American Civil War. After serving in the Senate, Revels was appointed as the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University) and later in his life, served again as a minister. He also spent his later years founding schools for Black children. “I am true to my own race,” he once said. “I wish to see all done that can be done for their encouragement, to assist them in acquiring property, in becoming intelligent, enlightened, useful, valuable citizens.”
- We also remember activistJames Cameron– and we’re not talking about the film director.ThisJames Cameron was the founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum– and the only known survivor of a lynching. Born in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, his life took a dangerous turn on August 7, 1930. Just 16, two of his friends Abe tried to hold up a white couple at a "Lovers Lane" – and things went very wrong.
- The local Sheriff arrested his friends and Cameron, charging them all with murder. Later, the Ku Klux Klan stormed the jail planning to lynch the trio. Cameron passed out after being severely beaten – and while his two friends were lynched, Cameron's life was spared. There are varying reports as to why – some say he passed out with before being stung up…others say a voice in the crowd proclaimed his innocence. Still, in spite of the assistance from the NAACP, Cameron was convicted as an accessory in his
- Paroled in 1935, Cameron eventually found himself in Madison, Wisconsin, where he founded the local branch of the NAACP and founded two more chapters in Muncie and South Bend, Indiana. Fast forward to 1988, and he foundedAmerica's Black Holocaust Museumwith the assistance of philanthropist, Daniel Bader. A not for profit organization, the Museum is devoted to preserving the history of lynching in the United States and the struggle to eradicate it.
Today, thousands of school children visit the museum. As for Cameron, was officially pardoned by the State of Indiana in 1991 – and he passed away in 2006. James Cameron died on June 13, 2006. He was survived by his wife, Virginia, and three of their five children His legacy, however, lives on.