America’s Black Holocaust Museum receives $1 million donation, sculpture

Greater Milwaukee Foundation makes three-year grant to support its reopening

Reggie Jackson, head griot at America's Black Holocaust Museum, gives a tour.

Last updated on January 25th, 2020 at 05:33 pm

America’s Black Holocaust Museum was gifted a $1 million donation from an anonymous donor, along with ongoing support from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and a signature piece of art from Sculpture Milwaukee.

The donations were announced Friday at the museum, which is nearing its reopening at 401 W. North Ave. in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville district.

BAM (Seated Warrior), a sculpture by artist Sanford Biggers. (Photo: Sculpture Milwaukee)

The event included the unveiling of BAM (Seated Warrior), a sculpture by artist Sanford Biggers, which was gifted by the GMF to ABHM on behalf of an anonymous donor. The sculpture, which Biggers cast as a marked and mutilated African “power” figure in bronze, was on display at 500 E. Wisconsin Ave., near the Milwaukee Club, throughout summer 2018 as part of Sculpture Milwaukee. It will now be on permanent display at the museum.

Museum and GMF leaders also announced the $1 million grant to ABHM, which was distributed by the foundation on behalf of an anonymous donor.

The GMF also announced it will give a three-year, $120,00 grant to the museum as part of its responsive grantmaking program. The funding will support the ongoing development of the museum as it builds staff capacity and programming.

“In a community striving to advance racial equity, and needing to acknowledge the pain and injustice of segregation and racism, ABHM offers an important space for learning, healing and problem-solving,” said Ellen Gilligan, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “Marshaling resources to support the mission, cultural connections and awareness of ABHM through philanthropy is right where the Foundation belongs.”

The museum has been closed since 2008, two years after the death of its founder Dr. James Cameron. Cameron, who survived a lynching in 1930 when he was 16 years old, founded the original America’s Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee in 1988.

It is now preparing to reopen at the same location of its predecessor at the corner of Vel R. Phillips and North avenues as part of a larger $17.7 million project led by Maures Development LLC and Jeffers & Co.

“At a time of hyperpolarization and growing distrust of cultures unfamiliar, we are in dire need of safe spaces and opportunities created to bring us together to explore difficult issues, to learn, to celebrate our commonalities,” said Robert Davis, president and chief executive officer of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. “The reemergence of the museum is critical for a time such as this, and I am honored and humbled to continue the work and the legacy of our founder, Dr. James Cameron.”

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.