Jim Crow Museum

During the Reconstruction, Southerns, whose Antebellum society revolved around African slavery, resented African Americas’ newfound freedom. In response, many Southern state legislatures passed “Jim Crow Laws” designed to disenfranchise and segregate African Americans. While morally repugnant, Jim Crow was technically legal because of the “separate but equal” precedent created by the Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. Following World War II, activists and politicians slowly began to confront the racist laws that permeated society. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. The Board of Education struck down the “separate but equal” doctrine, which undermined Jim Crow Laws. However, Jim Crow did not officially end until Congress passed the Civil and Voting Rights in 1964. Located on the Ferris State campus in Big Rapid, Michigan, the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia is designed to teach visitors about the racist Jim Crow system. It grew out of former Ferris sociology professor David Pilgrim’s collection of racist artifacts from the Jim Crow era. The museum currently owns approximately 9,000 artifacts that depict African-Americans in a racist way. Examples include a tree with a noose used for lynching and (more recently) artifacts attacking the first African-American president, Barack Obama. The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia also exhibits different racist cultural depictions of African Americans throughout American history.