Friday February 05, 2016

What good can come of racist memorabilia?

How Sleeps The Beast, a Don Tracy paperback about a romance between a white woman and a black man, is among the hateful objects in the Jim Crow Museum.

How Sleeps The Beast, a Don Tracy paperback about a romance between a white woman and a black man, is among the hateful objects in the Jim Crow Museum. (ferris.edu/jimcrow)

Listen 21:09

Dr. David Pilgrim bought his first racist artifact when he was 12, and swiftly broke it in front of the vendor. But now the professor, museum founder and self-described "garbage collector" thinks there's a better way to destroy bigotry.

His Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia features roughly fourteen thousand items — selected both for how shockingly racist and ordinary they are. Postcards, magazine ads, collector plates, and even cocktail mixers showcase America's deep-seated racism under segregation. 

Today Dr. Pilgrim joins guest host Gill Deacon to discuss the power of displaying racist objects as a group, why people struggle with how contemporary they are, and how he's using the "contemptible collectibles" to promote social justice.

His new book about the project is called Understanding Jim Crow

Racist Archie cover

Racist artifacts produced within living memory can be a lot harder to discuss that older relics, says Jim Crow Museum founder David Pilgrim.

WEB EXTRA | In the 19th and early 20th century, unprovoked violence against black people was the stuff of carnival games. Learn about the phenomenon in the video below. Please note: the reel features racist language.