Commemorating James Cameron:
Two young African-American men; Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, were lynched in the town center of Marion, Ind. The night before, on Aug. 6, 1930, they had been arrested and charged with the armed robbery and murder of a white factory worker. That evening a white mob of thousands broke into the jail with sledgehammers and crowbars to pull the young men out of their cells to lynch them. News of the lynching spread across the world. Local photographer Lawrence Beitler took what would become the most iconic photograph of lynching in America. Thousands of copies were made and sold. The photograph helped inspire the poem and song "Strange Fruit" written by Abel Meeropol -- and performed around the world by Billie Holiday.
But there was a third person, 16-year-old James Cameron, who narrowly survived the lynching. "After 15 or 20 minutes of having their pictures taken and everything, they came back to get me," "Just then the sheriff, was sweating like somebody had throwed a bucket of water in his face. He told the mob leader: 'Get the hell out of here, you already hung two of 'em so that ought to satisfy ya.' "And I looked over to the faces of the people as they were beating me along the way to the tree. But I could find no mercy. They got me up to the tree and they got a rope and they put it around my neck. That's when some people say a local Marion citizen stood on the hood of his car and shouted, "He's innocent, he didn't do it." Whatever the cause, the mob decided not to lynch Cameron and he was taken back to the jail.
He recounts the entire story in his autobiography, A Time of Terror. He also went on to found three chapters of the NAACP, served as Indiana's State Director of the Office of Civil Liberties and founded America's Black Holocaust Museum located Milwaukee, Wisconsin. .
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