March 23-31, 2017
Examining Freedom of Speech at App State

Why the Exhibit?

Public opening for “THEM: Images of Separation” with an introduction by Dr. David Pilgrim
Monday, March 27, 2017 / 5:30-6:30 p.m., reception and exhibition
222 Plemmons Student Union (Wiseman's View)
Free event

Dr. David Pilgrim, vice president for diversity and inclusion at Ferris State University, will discuss the exhibition “THEM: Images of Separation,” which will be on display as a part of “Say What? Examining Freedom of Speech at App State.” "THEM"—a traveling exhibition of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia—showcases items from popular culture used to stereotype different groups. The negative imagery—found on postcards, license plates, games, souvenirs and costumes—promoted stereotyping against such groups as Asian-Americans, Hispanics, Jews and poor whites, as well as those who are "other" in terms of body type or sexual orientation.

Dr. David Pilgrim

Dr. David Pilgrim is a public speaker and leading expert on issues relating to multiculturalism, diversity and race relations. He has been interviewed by National Public Radio, Time magazine, the British Broadcasting Corporation and dozens of newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times.

Pilgrim is best known as the founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum, a 5,000-piece collection of racist artifacts located at Ferris State University that uses objects of intolerance to teach tolerance. Pilgrim’s writings, many found on the museum’s web site, are used by scholars, students and civil rights workers to better understand historical and contemporary expressions of racism. He has been invited to deliver public lectures at many institutions, including Stanford University, Spring Arbor College, University of Michigan, Smith College and the University of North Carolina.

Pilgrim is an applied sociologist who believes racism can be objectively studied and creatively assailed. In 2004, he produced with Clayton Rye the documentary “Jim Crow’s Museum” to explain his approach to battling racism. The film won several awards, including Best Documentary at the 2004 Flint Film Festival. Marc Haefele, a film critic at the Los Angeles Daily News, called the documentary, a “grisly low-key masterpiece.” The documentary is shown nationally on affiliates of the Public Broadcasting Service. In 2006, Pilgrim served as a consultant to Will Smith for the UPN television show “All Of Us.” Smith wanted to make sure that the episode called “The N-Word” dealt with issues of race and racism in a non-stereotypical fashion.

Pilgrim’s writings, scholarly and creative, deal with multiculturalism and race relations. His short stories have been published in Calaloo, Obsidian, African American Review, Aim and Shooting Star.

Pilgrim is a Ferris State University Distinguished Teacher, and holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

Related links

Say What? Examining Freedom of Speech at App State

Appalachian State University, like universities across the nation, is faced with the challenge of balancing a respect for and obligation to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution with an institutional culture of respect for thought, belief and community.

  • When members of our community express themselves in ways that belittle or degrade others, how do we address these actions?
  • When members of our community view expressions of speech as threats, how do we ensure their safety?
  • How can we protect freedom of speech and thought for all members of our community?
  • Can we – or should we – use policy to address these matters?

Through a weeklong series of conversations, panel discussions, speeches and forums with experts in the field, our community will explore these questions, and others.

Join the conversations!

Learn more | View the entire schedule