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America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee reopening Friday

Posted at 5:36 AM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 16:15:54-05

MILWAUKEE — America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee's Bronzeville neighborhood will again reopen its door on Friday, Feb. 25 after 10 years.

A $10 million grant from an anonymous donor is allowing the doors to reopen next week following years of struggles to remain viable.

"This is a great time for Bronzeville and a wonderful time for us to re-immerse in the museum," said President and CEO Dr. Robert Davis.

Located at the corner of Vel R. Philips and North Avenue in Milwaukee, America’s Black Holocaust Museum was founded in 1988 by Dr. James Cameron, who survived a lynching as a teenager. The museum was visited by thousands of people from all around the world, but was forced to close in 2008 due to the recession. However, it reopened virtually in 2012, and has continued to receive worldwide attention

"Talk about the transatlantic slave trade, we talk about the economy, the economics of slavery. And then we get into Civil Rights. We talk about some local Milwaukeeans, famous Milwaukeeans," Dr. Davis said. "And then we switch gears and start talking a little bit about some of the successes that all Americans, especially African Americans, have had in the food industry, in religion, and arts and entertainment, and in sports."

In 2017, ground was broken for the a new site for the museum in the Bronzeville neighborhood, but it struggled with a lack of artifacts, exhibits, staff and educational programming.

But now, with a $10 million commitment made through the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, museum Davis says it has been able to hire staff, finish the last three exhibits and purchase an additional building for educational space.

The museum’s physical re-opening will debut multiple new exhibits, including galleries of more than 400 years of African-American history. The renovated museum is also part of a redevelopment plan to spur economic growth and cultural vitality, including working with partners for affordable housing.

"We're excited to continue the legacy of Dr. James Cameron, who is our founder. His story is one of the most unique of any American," Dr. Davis said. "At the age of 16 he survived a lynching, and it changed the trajectory of his life. He became a self-taught historian, went on to found several NAACP's throughout the Midwest."

It's stories like these Dr. Davis hopes visitors will sit with and carry with them beyond their visit.

And if something moves you, he wants you to share it.

"You can actually leave us a video tape of yourself saying what affected you about this museum, so you can be a part of our history," Dr. Davis said. "When people get in their cars, or in their Ubers, or on the bus or train, and they leave here that they're talking about it, and that in some way, some form or fashion, creates an awareness. They want to do more."

Click here for more information on America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

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