Museum of Shocking Racist Memorabilia Opens in Bid to Teach Tolerance
The collection, which makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing in the modern day, is said to be the largest of its kind in the world. Photo: AP
The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, in Michigan, US, contains a vast range of posters, toys and signs depicting shocking stereotypes of African American people.
It includes outdated theories of evolution, instructions on how to “black up” for the theatre and even a full-size replica of a lynching tree.
The collection, which makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing in the modern day, is said to be the largest of its kind in the world.
It was amassed by the founder and curator of the museum David Pilgrim, who began collecting the pieces as a teenager.
Mr Pilgrim, who is black himself, said the exhibit was “not a shrine to racism” but was about teaching.
The collection includes a series of signs taken from shops and public transport, declaring “Colored: seated in rear” while one business slogan reads: “Our business is black but we treat you white.”
Others show prevalent use of now-unacceptable terms including n——- and c—n.
One bizarre poster appears to show the evolution between a watermelon and a black man, and another captures a baby drinking from an inkwell with the caption “N——- milk”.
Another shows four young black children sitting by a river, with the caption “Alligator bait”.
Other parts of the collection were originally intended to be toys or household objects, with dolls, bottle openers and a tea pot styled in the head of a black man.
Man are said to be stereotyped as lazy, violent “beasts” while women are depicted largely as “mammies” or “Jezebels”.
Disturbingly, the collection even continues to the modern day with items from the Obama presidential campaign.
The museum’s website declares its aim to use “objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice” and says it “strives to become a leader in social activism and in the discussion of race and race relations.”
David Pilgrim, the founder and curator who started building the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
The £1.3m Jim Crow Museum, based at Ferris State University, aims to provide a timeline of the “African American experience in the United States” from pre-slavery through the civil rights movements to the modern day.
Mr Pilgrim, a former sociology professor at Ferris State, started the collection in the 1970s in Alabama and said he spent most of his free time and money on acquisitions.
In 1996, Mr Pilgrim donated his 2,000-piece collection to the school, where it spent the next 15 years housed in a single room.
Now made up of 9,000 pieces, much of the collection will be put on general display to the public.
He wrote on the museum’s website: “I am a garbage collector, racist garbage.