On April 26th at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, a black collector of antiques named David Pilgrim will open the first Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Pilgrim, a sociology Professor at Ferris, has spent decades collecting racist memorabilia and will now present thousands of pieces of historical artifacts in one museum.
Visitors will pass through a large black waiter’s mouth with red lips and teeth that serve as a doorway to the harsh realities of Jim Crow, past and present. There are large collections of mammy saltshakers, posters featuring black men as savages craving white women, blackface statues, Uncle Remus Syrup ads, Cream of Wheat’s original blackface logo and vaudeville signs featuring the N-word. Other items include adult and child sized KKK robes, “Whites Only” signs and other items that illustrate the”picinniny” or jezebel stereotype of black women and children.
Post civil rights, some discriminatory products began to take an international approach, giving the former blackface or mammy symbol dreadlocks for a more “Rastafarian” look. Those items are also featured in the museum, as well as more contemporary pieces like those featuring current President Barack Obama as a monkey, or in a negative light as a black man.
The new Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia was a $1.3 million investment and features over 9,000 artifacts within its 3,300-square-foot structure.
For more information about the museum, go to www.ferris.edu.