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Help us spark intelligent discussions about racism, teach tolerance, and promote social justice by publishing Understanding Jim Crow.
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Update: With all your tax-deductible donations, you've helped us quickly reach our goal to publish Understanding Jim Crow! Thank you very much to all our backers. We're so grateful for all the support! But let's not quit just yet. Please continue to pre-order copies of the book (the $25 level, see details below) so that we may get this important book into more hands and help extend the work of the Jim Crow Museum and Dr. David Pilgrim. 

“One of the most important contributions to the study of American history that I have ever experienced.” —Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African American Research and contributor to Understanding Jim Crow

Our goal is to print 5,000 copies of Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice by David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. This book is an essential and accessible resource and teaching tool to understand the historical and current climate of race relations and systemic racism in America. The book is finished and ready to print. We just need your support to help get the book into as many hands as possible. The more pre-orders we get, the more copies we can make (and the less expensive it will be per copy to print). Please check out our perks below, donate generously, and share widely. Donations from U.S. citizens will be tax deductible. Thanks very much in advance for the support!

About the book:

For many people, especially those who came of age after landmark civil rights legislation was passed, it is difficult to understand what it was like to be an African American living under Jim Crow segregation in the United States. Most young Americans have little or no knowledge about restrictive covenants, literacy tests, poll taxes, lynchings, and other oppressive features of the Jim Crow racial hierarchy. Even those who have some familiarity with the period may initially view racist segregation and injustices as relics of a distant, shameful past. A proper understanding of race relations in this country must include a solid knowledge of Jim Crow—how it emerged, what it was like, how it ended, and its impact on the culture.

Understanding Jim Crow introduces readers to the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, a collection of more than ten thousand contemptible collectibles that are used to engage visitors in intense and intelligent discussions about race, race relations, and racism. The items are offensive. They were meant to be offensive. The items in the Jim Crow Museum served to dehumanize blacks and legitimized patterns of prejudice, discrimination, and segregation.

Using racist objects as teaching tools seems counterintuitive—and, quite frankly, needlessly risky. Many Americans are already apprehensive discussing race relations, especially in settings where their ideas are challenged. The museum and this book exist to help overcome our collective trepidation and reluctance to talk about race.

Featuring hundreds of images on 208 oversized, 8 x 10 pages in full color, and with context provided by the museum’s founder and director David Pilgrim, Understanding Jim Crow is both a grisly tour through America’s past and an auspicious starting point for racial understanding and healing.

Printing thousands of books with full-color images is expensive, especially since we choose to print in the USA with employee-owned printer Thomson-Shore. We want to keep printing costs down so the book can be as accessible as possible. The more pre-orders we receive, the more books we can print! Further, all royalties will go to the Jim Crow Museum.

This book will be copublished by Friends of PM Press and Between the Lines in Canada.

Inside the book (sample text from Chapter One: "The Garbage Man: Why I Collect Racist Objects" and Table of Contents way below):

Rewards:

Descriptions of Towards Collective Liberation, Don't Leave Your Friends Behind, Deep Diversity, Fear of a Black Nation, Apartheid Wall shirt, and the Friends of PM Membership Program. 

About the author:

Dr. David Pilgrim is a professor, orator, human rights activist, and one of this country's leading experts on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity, and race relations. He is best known as the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum, the largest, publicly accessible collection of racist artifacts in the country with over 10,000 pieces located at Ferris State University. He has been interviewed by NPR, Time magazine, BBC, and dozens of newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. His award winning films and writings are used by scholars, students, and civil rights workers to better understand historical and contemporary expressions of racism.

Praise for the book and the Jim Crow Museum:

“This was a horrific time in our history, but it needs to be taught and seen and heard. This is very well done, very well done.” —Malaak Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz

“The museum’s contents are only a small part of the damaging effects of the Jim Crow laws that were found all across America, including bright and sunny California. This history is not only an important part of understanding where America was but, in an age of states making it harder and harder for citizens to vote, it is relevant to note that we have been here before.” —Henry Rollins, host of the History Channel’s 10 Things You Don’t Know About

“For decades the author has been on a pilgrimage to bring out from our dank closets the racial skeletons of our past. His is a crucial mission, because he forces us to realize that race relations grew worse in the first several decades of the twentieth century—something many Americans never knew or now want to suppress. This book allows us to see, even feel the racism of just a generation or two ago—and Pilgrim shows that elements of it continue, even today. See it! Read it! Feel it! Then help us all transcend it!” —James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and coeditor of The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader

“The museum has been one of my treasured go-to resources for teaching people about the deep-seated roots of the racism that persists in our collective subconscious. Only by facing our history and its hold on our psyche can we construct a better culture. This work is invaluable.” —damali ayo, author of How to Rent a Negro and Obamistan! Land without Racism

“David Pilgrim makes a vital contribution to help us understand the grotesque depths of the psychological and cultural war of anti-black racism throughout the Jim Crow era. In our quest to build powerful multiracial grassroots movements for collective liberation, Pilgrim’s book is a tool to help decolonize our minds, attack anti-Black racism in all of its forms, and create a multiracial democracy with economic justice for all.” —Chris Crass, author of Towards Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategy

About the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI:

The Museum’s mission is to collect, exhibit, and preserve objects and collections related to racial segregation, anti-black caricatures, civil rights, and African American achievement, promote the scholarly examination of historical and contemporary expressions of racism, serve as a teaching resource for Ferris State University courses which deal, directly or indirectly, with the issues of race and ethnicity, and to serve as an educational resource for scholars and teachers at the state, national, and international levels. The Museum features six exhibit areas—Who and What Is Jim Crow, Jim Crow Violence, Jim Crow and Antiblack Imagery, Battling Jim Crow Imagery, Attacking Jim Crow Segregation, and Beyond Jim Crow. The Museum also offers a comprehensive timeline of the African American experience in the United States. The timeline is divided into six sections: Africa Before Slavery, Slavery in America, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and Post–Civil Rights. The Jim Crow Museum strives to become a leader in social activism and in the discussion of race and race relations.

About Friends of PM:

Friends of PM is the registered 501(c)3 non-profit publishing wing of PM Press that produces radical books and media to encourage critical thinking on the key political, cultural, social, economic, and ecological issues shaping life in the United States and in the world today. Friends of PM aims to broaden the audience for serious intellectual work by reaching audiences that have been intellectually marginalized by large corporate publishers, explore a broad range of approaches and solutions to complex public issues, amplify the work of traditionally underrepresented voices, and distribute the information through every available channel, medium, and network.

About Between the Lines:

Between the Lines books present new ideas and challenge readers to rethink the world around them. Our authors offer analysis of historical events and contemporary issues not often found in the mainstream. We specialize in informative, non-fiction books on politics and public policy, social issues, Canadian and world history, international development, gender and sexuality, critical race issues, culture, adult and popular education, labour and work, environment, technology, and media. Radical publishing since 1977.

About your pledge:

If you are a U.S. citizen, your pledge is tax deductible, minus the cost of your selected reward. If you select not to receive a reward, the total amount of your contribution is tax deductible. At the end of the campaign, when we reach our goal and credit card transactions are completed, we will send out formal, digital tax acknowledgment letters from FOPM for your records. If you have questions about the non-profit or tax deduction, please get in touch.

More information about:

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University

Dr. David Pilgrim

PM Press and Friends of PM

Between the Lines

How you can help:

Sample Text from Chapter One:

Table of Contents

*Kickstarter campaign created and managed by the Jim Crow Museum, Steven from PM Press, and Between the Lines

Risks and challenges

This is the second Friends of PM release, the non-profit publishing wing of PM Press. While this brings different risks and challenges than the typical publishing project, PM Press has published nearly 400 releases and sold 750,000 books during the past seven years. The biggest risk is that the cost of printing and shipping Understanding Jim Crow is roughly four times the cost of our average $20 book. But we are unwilling to limit the book's exposure or circulation by charging a high, unaffordable list price.

A particular risk of publishing Understanding Jim Crow is the extremely offensive nature of the visual content. These images were meant to be offensive, and the items in the Jim Crow Museum served to dehumanize blacks and legitimized patterns of prejudice, discrimination, and segregation. The goal of this book, to use these racist objects as teaching tools, seems counterintuitive—and, quite frankly, needlessly risky. Many Americans are already apprehensive discussing race relations, especially in settings where their ideas are challenged. However, this book exists to help overcome our collective trepidation and reluctance to talk about race. With your help, we hope to accomplish this goal.

Built on innumerable volunteer hours, immeasurable skill and publishing experience, DIY attitude, and just one credit card (paid off!), PM Press has stormed the weather of the economic slump and is proud to have a dozen full and part-time time staff members plus many irreplaceable volunteers. PM has expanded warehouse facilities on both the East and West Coasts and opened an office in London, England. Please help us get Understanding Jim Crow into the hands of readers, activists, and artists worldwide!

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    Get a PERSONAL TOUR of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia (with round trip PLANE TICKET with HOTEL) in Big Rapids, MI with founder and director David Pilgrim. This is a fantastic learning opportunity to personally experience the museum and artifacts! Plus get a signed copy of the book and a digital, eBook version. Domestic flights only. If more than one person, please get in touch.

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Funding period

- (31 days)