Bigger, Deeper JIm Crow Museum Opening Soon - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Bigger, Deeper Jim Crow Museum Opening Soon

Posted: Updated:

Dr. David Pilgrim will tell you that Americans don't shy away from talking about race. 

"People are hungry to talk about race," says Pilgrim. "It's a lie and a myth that people don't want to talk about race, they talk about it all the time."

Pilgrim is a sociologist at Ferris State University and the driving force behind the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Much of the museum's early collection came from Pilgrim's personal collection. He sees the museum as a galvanizing force for new and deeper discussions on race.

And thanks to his diligent efforts over the past 15 years, the museum is now getting a new permanent home, and a space specifically designed for its growing collection.

"It's so easy to misunderstand what we're doing here," he said. "Once you're here, you get it. And you'd get it even more if there were ten people here and we were all discussing it – then you'd really get it."

The museum covers an era that Pilgrim says is often overlooked when it comes to race and race relations – the Jim Crow, a roughly one hundred year period during the era between slavery and the civil rights movement. But the story of Jim Crow doesn't end there – it's still alive and well in contemporary society, you just need to know where to look.

And that's the point of the Jim Crow Museum – it takes an unvarnished and sobering look at where we've come from, where we are and where we're going.

"What these objects represent – there's no two ways about it – they mock democracy," he said. "We are the city on the hill but [these objects are] the mud under your shoe that we're flinging at the city on the hill."

The new museum opens on April 26th in the FLITE library on the campus of Ferris state University.

9&10's Michael Kasiborski and photojournalist Joel Deaner have a look inside the old and new museum.