Jim Crow Museum curator visits WMU to address teaching tolerance

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Dr. David .


KALAMAZOO—The creator of an innovative museum containing a large collection of racist artifacts will address teaching tolerance in a visit this week to Western Michigan University.

Dr. David Pilgrim, vice president for diversity and inclusion at Ferris State University, will speak at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, in 2008 Richmond Center for Visual Arts. His presentation, free and open to the public, is titled "Using Objects of Intolerance to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice: The Case of the Jim Crow Museum."

In his talk, Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, will discuss the museum's mission and its strategy of using historical and contemporary racially demeaning artifacts to teach about race, race relations and racism. Audience members are warned that the presentation contains images some may find offensive. Pilgrim also will conduct a workshop for WMU Frostic School of Art students and will be honored by the Kalamazoo Black Arts and Cultural Center.

David Pilgrim

Pilgrim, an applied sociologist, is one of the country's leading experts on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity and race relations. His research has shown that racism can be objectively studied and creatively assailed. The museum contains a 7,000-piece collection of racist artifacts and uses objects of intolerance to teach tolerance. His writings, many found at ferris.edu/jimcrow, are used by scholars, students and civil rights workers to better understand historical and contemporary racism.

The museum will be profiled in an upcoming PBS documentary, while Pilgrim has been interviewed by NPR, Time, the BBC and dozens of newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. In 2004, Pilgrim produced with Clayton Rye a documentary on the museum. The film won several awards and was described by Los Angeles film critic, Marc Haefele, as a "grisly low-key masterpiece."

Pilgrim's visit is supported through the generosity of the Gwen Frostic School of Art, the WMU Art Education Program, the Lewis Walker Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations and the Kalamazoo Black Arts and Cultural Center.