Ferris State University Race Relations Professor Weighs in on Recent Protests

Dr. David Pilgrim, founder of the Jim Crow Museum and professor at Ferris State University, is saddened by the death of George Floyd, but even more upset by the protests happening across the country.

“There are voices that we have marginalized, there are people we’ve marginalized,” said Dr. Pilgrim. “It just absolutely breaks my heart to see the way we’ve moved backwards as a nation.”

This is not the first time Dr. Pilgrim has experienced this kind of anger in America.

“When I grew up in Alabama, I was a child when you had the civil rights protests,” said Dr. Pilgrim. “Actually, I tell people that I had a level of

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rhetoric that is reminiscent of when I grew up in Alabama in the 1960s and 1970s.”

After violence erupted during Lansing and Grand Rapids protests, Dr. Pilgrim says he understands the frustrations people have.

“I can tell you though, anger is very expensive fuel,” said Dr. Pilgrim. “I’m not denying that significant  changes sometimes in response to angry anger, but it’s an expensive fuel.”

However, he has faith that the younger generation will be the one to change things.

“I believe that they’re not going to just sit and address injustice and that gives me great faith for the rest of us,” said Dr. Pilgrim. “We are too busy trying to be right. Arguing, debating, everything politicized at this point.”

And he says now, more than ever, it’s important for everyone to take the time and listen to each other.

“I’m not talking about the far left or the far right, I’m talking about the majority of us have to make the decision,” said Dr. Pilgrim. “Do we want community or do we want chaos? If we want community, just be quiet, just listen. Let people explain to you what they hurt, how they hurt, and listen.”