Jim Crow Museum relocates

A $250,000 grant from DTE Energy calls for a new museum

After receiving a $250,000 grant from DTE Energy, the Jim Crow Museum will be relocated to the lower level of FLITE.

The museum was started in 1996 by Dean Sue Hammersmith when she found a small room about 500 square feet in Starr 312 to display the collection.

The museum is made up of two traveling exhibitions including “Hateful Things,” which focuses exclusively on African Americans; and “Them: Images of Separation,” which has objects that focus on many groups, including African Americans, Native Americans, women, poor Caucasian Americans, homosexuals and many others.

“I think the museum being located on campus will get more students to come visit the museum and get more involved,” said freshman Kristina Winowski.

The museum recently received two significant collections: the first is a collection of rag dolls owned by Mac Charbonnet, a collector from New York. The second collection is around several thousand pieces that belong to the Vaughn family of Columbus which was added to the museum in October 2010.

“I am very excited about the museum relocating,” said Yolonda Barnes, fundraiser for JCM. “This has been a long time coming. I am very humbled about how passionate Dr. Pilgrim [current curator] is about the JCM and what it represents.”

The museum continues to experience a high level of demand. During 2009, approximately 2,200 people toured the museum.

“Touring the JCM gives Ferris students the opportunity to learn about race, ethnicity and gender issues,” said Barnes.

These visitors included students and educators, filmmakers, journalists, company employees and members of other organizations. Civil rights and human rights individuals and organizations also routinely visit the museum.

“I believe the number of visitors will significantly increase,” said David Pilgrim, founder of the Jim Crow Museum. “The museum is a wonderful teaching resource and the new facility will help us do an even better job.”

It has not yet been decided what the previous location will be replaced with, but Pilgrim would like to see it used for objects that relate to women, gays, poor whites, and many other groups.

“My family and I have been to the museum a couple times,” said freshman Brittany Wood. “It’s a great experience and the more times I go, the more I learn.”

“I have never been to this museum,” said freshman Bethany Sonefeld. “But I think things like this are important to have. They teach and inspire people.”

The decade long project expects to be open within the next year. n