A Time of Terror: A Survivor's Story

A Time of Terror: A Survivor's Story

Paperback(New Edition)

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“I had done nothing that could really be called bad. I had been foolish, yes, but I had not done anything bad. The trouble was, this was Marion, Indiana, where there was very little room for foolish black boys.”

On a sweltering August night in 1930, two older boys invited sixteen-year-old Jimmie Cameron for what they said would be a joyride. Instead, they held up a young white couple parked in a remote Lover’s Lane. The stickup went horribly wrong. The boys were arrested, dragged from jail by a mob, and lynched on the courthouse lawn before thousands of spectators. Miraculously, Cameron lived to tell the story.

He began writing his account while still a teenager, traumatized by the lynching and confined in a maximum-security adult prison. A talented storyteller, Cameron shows us the humor and horror of coming of age as a black child during the Jim Crow era. Populated by unforgettable characters both kind and cruel, A Time of Terror is a poignant story of anger and courage, forgiveness and redemption.

The memoir ends when Cameron leaves prison at age twenty-one, vowing to “pick up the loose ends of my life and weave them into something beautiful, worthwhile, and God-like.” The book’s Afterword by his protégé Reggie Jackson describes what Cameron accomplished in his next seventy-one years as a civil rights pioneer, working man, self-taught historian, writer, father of five, and founder of America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

The 3rd edition includes never-before-published chapters. It begins with a Foreword by James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, explaining how Cameron’s story offers a corrective understanding of American history. The Introduction by educator Fran Kaplan and historian Robert S. Smith gives the reader an easily grasped and thorough grounding in the cultural context of young Cameron’s life.

To further support the reader–especially those of high school and college age–this edition contains 50 vintage photographs. Over 100 annotations next to Cameron’s text provide definitions of the era’s expressions, background on the characters and historic events he mentions, and fun facts.

This book, the only account ever written by a lynching survivor, is a unique and highly readable historical resource. It deserves a place alongside the works of other African American memoirists, such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, and President Barak Obama. Like the diary of his contemporary, Anne Frank, Cameron’s memoir is an intimate view of a teenager’s life forever changed by the brutal reality around him.

A Time of Terror is appropriate for secondary and post-secondary school course adoption, as well as university “common reads” for entering freshmen. Online guides are available for educators and book clubs.

Praise for A Time of Terror:

“The narrative is at once thrilling and unnerving–and interspersed with humor and philosophical reflections on humanity's predicament….An inspired meditation on individual human endeavor, comparable to Richard Wright's Bigger Thomas, but with an uplifting ending.” – Dr. Stephen Small, African American Studies, University of California–Berkeley

“This book and the history it recalls are vital reminders to us all, not only of the tragic national past, but the ongoing present reality of how racial injustice can poison the minds, hearts and institutions of a culture.” ​– Tim Wise, antiracism educator and author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race From a Privileged Son

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780996576901
Publisher: Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation
Publication date: 02/25/2016
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 510,773
Product dimensions: 6.69(w) x 9.61(h) x 0.55(d)

About the Author

Dr. James Cameron (1914-2006) founded America's Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and published dozens of essays on American history, politics, and culture.

James W. "Jim" Loewen (born February 6, 1942) is an American sociologist, historian, and author, best known for his 1995 book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

Loewen was born and raised in Decatur, Illinois. He attended Carleton College. In 1963, as a junior, he spent a semester in Mississippi, an experience in a different culture that led to his questioning what he had been taught about United States history. He was intrigued by learning about the unique place of nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants and their descendants in Mississippi culture, commonly thought of as biracial. Loewen went on to earn a PhD in sociology from Harvard University based on his research on Chinese Americans in Mississippi.

Loewen first taught in Mississippi at Tougaloo College, a historically black college founded by the American Missionary Association after the American Civil War. For twenty years, Loewen taught about racism at the University of Vermont. Since 1997, he has been a Visiting Professor of Sociology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Loewen spent two years at the Smithsonian Institution, where he studied and compared twelve American history textbooks then widely used throughout the United States. He published his findings in Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (1995). He concluded that textbook authors propagate factually false, Eurocentric, and mythologized views of history. The New Press in March 2012 listed Lies My Teacher Told Me as their top all-time bestseller.

He believes that history should not be taught as straightforward facts and dates to memorize, but rather analysis of the context and root causes of events. Loewen recommends that teachers use two textbooks, so that students may realize the contradictions and ask questions, such as, "Why do the authors present the material like this?" Loewen points out that many of the distortions found in American History texts are "not even by the authors whose names grace the cover."

Dr. Fran Kaplan serves as coordinator of the America's Black Holocaust virtual Museum. She has been an educator, social worker, writer, and racial justice activist for nearly five decades. Fran has created and run nonprofit and for profit organizations that address issues from women's health and farmworker rights to nurturing parenting, early childhood education, and peace-building.

Fran is also a published writer and the producer of award-winning short and feature films. Her co-authored screenplay, Fruit of the Tree, about the life of James Cameron has won awards in national and regional competitions. The international trainer-consultant for a global parenting education program, Fran authored and co-produced its Spanish-language videos, books, and games. With Dr. Robert Smith, Dr. Kaplan curated and edited Lynching: An American Folkway, a digital transmedia anthology distributed by Biblioboard, Inc. to libraries across the country.

Fran has been recognized by various organizations in Milwaukee and Wisconsin for promoting racial justice and providing leadership in children's and human rights.

Table of Contents

Foreword by James W. Loewen
Introduction: Growing Up Under Jim Crow
ONE: In the Beginning
TWO: Life With-and Without-Father
THREE: Life is Like a Mountain Railroad
FOUR: Knives, Guns, Fists, and Switches
FIVE: Apples Meets the Klan
SIX: The Crooked Path
SEVEN: Say It Isn't So!
EIGHT: Demonic Terror
NINE: The Miraculous Intervention
TEN: Safe at Last?
ELEVEN: Big Emotions
TWELVE: Inside the Walls-in Body and Mind
THIRTEEN: The Milk of Human Kindness
FOURTEEN: Judgment
FIFTEEN: Living with the Verdict
SIXTEEN: A Promise to God
Afterword: The Amazing Afterlife of Dr. James Cameroni
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