A museum which exhibits nothing but memorabilia spawned by racism, segregation, civil rights and anti-Black caricatures has opened its doors in Michigan, USA.
The Jim Crow Museum Of Racist Memorabilia features artefacts including “Mammy candles”, “Nellie fishing lures”, “Picaninny ashtrays”, “Sambo masks”, “Coon toys” and “Golliwog marbles”.
Founder and creator Dr David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology at Ferris State University, has promoted his collection as a means of “using objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.”
Some of the ornaments on display at the museum
He explains: “I am a garbage collector, racist garbage. For three decades I have collected items that defame and belittle Africans and their American descendants. I collect this garbage because I believe, and know to be true, that items of intolerance can be used to teach tolerance.”
Dr Pilgrim says the most offensive item he has ever seen is a puzzle game called “Chopped Up Niggers”, an item not in his collection. He points out postcards and photographs of lynched Blacks still sell for around $400 each on eBay, adding: “I can afford to buy one, but I am not ready, not yet.”
Scroll down for a gallery of exhibits at the museum
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While some of the museum objects are over one hundred years old, others are more recent, with some even referencing President Barack Obama.
A T-shirt referencing the election race reads “Any White Guy 2012”. Another shirt that says "Obama '08" is accompanied by a cartoon monkey holding a banana. A mouse pad shows robe-wearing Ku Klux Klan members chasing an Obama caricature above the words, "Run Obama Run."
Ferris State sophomore Nehemiah Israel told AP: "I was like, 'Wow. People still think this. This is crazy'."
Dr Pilgrim explains he was relieved to donate his collection to the university because he did not like having the items in his home.
He said: “I had small children. They would wander to the basement and look at ‘daddy's dolls’ - two mannequins dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia. They played with the racist target games. One of them, I do not know which, broke a ‘Tom’ cookie jar. I was angry for two days. The irony is not lost to me.”
“The mission of the Jim Crow Museum is straightforward: use items of intolerance to teach tolerance. We examine the historical patterns of race relations and the origins and consequences of racist depictions.
Much of the items in the museum are over one hundred years old
“The aim is to engage visitors in open and honest dialogues about this country's racial history. We are not afraid to talk about race and racism. I continue to deliver public presentations at high schools and colleges. Race relations suffer when discussions of race and racism are verboten.
“The Jim Crow Museum is founded on the belief that open, honest, even painful discussions about race are necessary to avoid yesterday's mistakes.
“Our goal is not to shock visitors. A thick naiveté about America's past permeates this country. Many Americans understand historical racism mainly as a general abstraction: Racism existed; it was bad, though probably not as bad as blacks and other minorities claim.
“A confrontation with the visual evidence of racism - especially thousands of items in a small room - is frequently shocking, even painful."
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