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Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice: the Case of the Jim Crow Museum

October 23, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

The Jim Crow Museum is the nation’s largest publicly accessible collection of racist artifacts. Located on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, the museum houses more than 12,000 objects—primarily, but not exclusively, segregation era artifacts and everyday anti-black caricatured objects. The museum’s innovative mission—which doubles as its tagline—is “using objects of intolerance to teach tolerance.”  As such, the Jim Crow Museum serves as a compelling model for all museums to consider.

Prof. David Pilgrim, founder and current director of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia also serves as Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris State University.

Please note that some may be offended by the images in the presentation.


October 23, 2018 at 6:30 p.m., Stern Auditorium, University of Michigan Museum of Art


Presented by the University of Michigan Museum Studies Program with the support of the Office of the Vice President for Student Life, the School of Information, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.


Pilgrim lecture announcement_Final


Dr. David Pilgrim, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Ferris State University, is one of this country’s leading experts on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity, and race relations. He has been interviewed by National Public Radio, Time magazine, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and dozens of newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. Dr. Pilgrim is best known as the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum — a 11,000 piece collection of racist artifacts located at Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, Michigan. The museum, innovatively, uses objects of intolerance to teach tolerance. Dr. Pilgrim’s writings, many found at, are used by scholars, students, and civil rights workers to better understand historical and contemporary expressions of racism.

Dr. Pilgrim is an applied sociologist with a doctorate from The Ohio State University. He believes that racism can be objectively studied and creatively assailed. In 2004, he produced with Clayton Rye the documentary Jim Crow’s Museum to explain his approach to battling racism. The film won several awards including Best Documentary at the 2004 Flint Film Festival.  Dr. Pilgrim’s writings, scholarly and creative, deal with multiculturalism and race relations. His short stories have been published in Calaloo, Obsidian, African American Review, Aim, and Shooting Star. He is the author of Understanding Jim Crow: Using Objects of Intolerance to Teach Tolerance (PM Press, 2015), used as a text in teaching undergraduates in the Museum Studies Minor at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Pilgrim challenges audiences to think deeply about diversity and race relations. He is a Ferris State University Distinguished Teacher. Dr. Pilgrim has spent his adult life using objects of intolerance to teach tolerance. It works. His goal is to get people talking about diversity and race relations in meaningful ways — and, then, to go and do something positive.



October 23, 2018
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


U-M Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium
525 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 United States
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