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"Hateful Things" exhibit at Luther College puts racist images on display

Posted: Mon, Feb 12, 2018 9:07 AM
(Photo courtesy of Luther College)

From Aunt Jemima advertisements to the board game "Ghettopoly," American popular culture is replete with racist images. "Hateful Things," a traveling exhibition from Ferris State University's  Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, is now on display through March 2nd in the Center for Faith and Life at Luther College.

The 39-piece exhibit features an extensive collection of racist objects that trace the history of the stereotyping of African Americans from the late 19th century to the present. In addition to items from popular and commercial culture, the traveling exhibit also contains images of violence against African Americans and the Civil Rights struggle for racial equality.

Founder and curator of the museum is Ferris State University vice president for diversity and inclusion David Pilgrim. Pilgrim explains "'Hateful Things' is intended to stimulate scholarly examination of historical and contemporary expressions of racism, as well as promote racial understanding and healing. The objects in the exhibit have been lifted from their original purposes to now serve as powerful reminders of America's racist past, and more importantly, give viewers new eyes with which to see present-day images of racial stereotyping that might otherwise pass unchallenged."

The "Hateful Things" exhibit, sponsored by Luther's art gallery program, Diversity Center, Center for Ethics and Public Engagement, Dean's Office and the college's Africana studies, English and religion departments, is open to the public with no charge for admission.

The exhibit is part of a larger effort at Luther to address the issue of hate in today's culture. A  Luther Diversity Center publication states the exhibit and other upcoming events "are designed to challenge our values, attitudes and worldviews with the goal of shifting us beyond our immediate interests and present knowledge into broader understanding and community-building."

In addition to the "HatefulThings" exhibit, Luther is hosting a series of guest lectures:

  • Jim Crow Museum Founder and Curator David Pilgrim will be speaking February 18th at 4:00 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life recital hall. Pilgrim's lecture is entitled "Watermelons, Nooses, and Straight Razors: Stories from the Jim Crow Museum."
  • Hate crime victim and survivor Matthew Bogar will be speaking March 6th at 7:00 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life as part of Luther's "Hope Over Hate" week. Bogar's nationally publicized story is the subject of the Academy Award-nominated short film "Facing Fear."
  • Musician, author, actor and activist Darryl Davis will be speaking March 8th at 7:00 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life as part of Luther's "Hope Over Hate" week. Davis' documentary, "Accidental Courtesy," captures answers to the question, "How can you hate me when you don't know me?"
For more information about upcoming lectures and events at Luther visit