Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia

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Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia is located in Michigan
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
Location within Michigan
Established 1996
Location Big Rapids, Michigan
Coordinates 43°41′15″N 85°28′57″W / 43.68748°N 85.48243°W / 43.68748; -85.48243
Type History museum
Collection size 9,000
Owner Ferris State University
Website www.ferris.edu/jimcrow/

The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan, displays a wide variety of artifacts, including cartoons, figurines, and advertising, depicting the history of racist portrayals of African Americans in American popular culture.[1]

Curator David Pilgrim explains, in his essay "The Garbage Man: Why I collect racist objects": "I collect this garbage because I believe, and know to be true, that forms of intolerance can be used to teach tolerance.".[2]

The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia is a collection of racist artifacts dating from the present back to the segregation era in the United States, put together by Ferris State University Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, David Pilgrim. The exhibit has over 9,000 pieces.


David Pilgrim, a former professor of sociology at Ferris State University, started to collect racist memorabilia in flea markets across America in the 1970s. By 1996, the collection had grown to over 2,000 pieces, and Pilgrim decided to donate the collection to Ferris State because “it needed a real home.”[3] Presently, the collection has grown to over 10,000 pieces that perpetuate African-American stereotypes and in some cases promote violence against them.


The artifacts that can be found in the museum span the years of American history. Some of them are over a hundred years old, from a time where Jim Crow operated openly out in public. Others are far more recent. “One T-shirt on display reads: ‘Any White Guy 2012.’ Another shirt that says ‘Obama in '08’ is accompanied by a picture of Curious George holding a banana. A mouse pad shows robe-wearing Ku Klux Klan members chasing an Obama caricature above the words, ‘Run Obama Run.’”[3] In another room there is footage of racist propaganda and images playing on the television. In another room, there is a full-size replica of a lynching tree complete with a noose hanging from one of the branches. “The n-word is prevalent throughout, and many items portray black men as lazy, violent or inarticulate. Black women are shown as kerchief-wearing mammies, sexually charged Jezebels or other stereotypes.”[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fox, Helen (2009). When Race Breaks Out: Conversations about race and racism in college classrooms (Revised ed.). New York: Peter Lang Publishing. p. 202. ISBN 978-1-4331-0592-0. 
  2. ^ Pilgrim, David (February 2005). "The Garbage Man: Why I collect racist objects". Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Big Rapids, Michigan: Ferris State University. Retrieved June 6, 2013. .
  3. ^ a b c Householder, Mike (April 19, 2012). "Newest Michigan museum showcases racist artifacts". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved June 6, 2012. 

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