Small Baltimore press enjoys 'frenzy' of interest SURVIVOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH 1994

February 16, 1994|By Sandra Crockett

James Cameron began writing his book 63 years ago, right after the lynching he survived.

But no one was interested. In 1982, he mortgaged his home to publish it himself. For a self-published book, it didn't do too badly.

"We sold 1,100 copies here in Milwaukee," he says.

This year, Black Classic Press decided to reissue the book.

"The Cameron book is definitely the type of book we like to do," says W. Paul Coates, director of the Baltimore company.

"It had been rejected by almost every publisher in the country. But it's an important tale. It's an obscure tale. It's the type of story we need for people to have a greater understanding of black history . . . a greater understanding of American history," says Mr. Coates.

But now this previously little-known story is getting na tional attention.

A grandchild of a Ku Klux Klan member read a story about Mr. Cameron and was intrigued.

Cynthia Carr's grandfather lived in the town where the lynching happened. She read the book, contacted Mr. Cameron and wrote a story for the Village Voice two weeks ago.

Since the Village Voice article, there's been "a small frenzy" of interest from the media, Mr. Coates says.

"Our normal runs are usually from 3,000 to 5,000 books," the publisher says.

The company printed 5,000 copies of Mr. Cameron's book.

"We are going back to press for 10,000 this week. And we are already discussing a third printing," Mr. Coates says.

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