Jim Crow Museum
1010 Campus Drive
Big Rapids, MI 49307
When my grandfather's mother died he brought home a big atlas from the 1870s from her house. Stuck in the pages of this atlas were many family pictures, newspaper clippings, etc. that she had kept over the years. There was also an old picture of a Ku Klux Klan man standing in his white sheet with an American flag, a burning cross, a school house, and a church in the background. Underneath it read: One Flag One School One Church. In small print on the bottom it read: M. Wells 1924. When my grandpa died I got the atlas.
Although I believe this picture to be of historical importance, I don't want it in my house.
My grandpa told me stories of how his father took him to Klan meetings when he was a little boy. He never spoke highly of his father. In addition to being racist, his family also hated Catholics. My grandpa fell in love with my Catholic grandma just after he came home from the war and they married soon after. My grandma told me that his cousins started bad mouthing Catholics, not knowing she was one, and my grandpa never spoke to them again because they had insulted his one true love. It's good to know that people can unlearn the rubbish their parents teach them.
Another interesting thing that I found in this atlas was an old newspaper article from the 1950s in which the writer criticizes hate groups. If his mother took the time to cut out that article, it shows that maybe the logic of it changed her heart a little, regardless of her husband's Klan membership.
I was looking for a place for these two things -- the picture and the newspaper article -- and came across your museum on the Internet. Would you be interested in having these? The picture is tatty at the edges, but if handled carefully and framed it should last for many more years. Just let me know and I'll post them over to you. The work you do is so important. Thank you.
-- Sept. 21, 2005