I have just read "The Garbage Man: Why I Collect Racist Objects." I am a retired Administrative Law Judge and a former Training Officer for the Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights. Your wonderfully illuminating essay was forwarded to me by a close friend, the only Black member of my graduating class at Detroit College of Law in 1976.
I grew up in Shiawassee County when it was all White. My mother often told me of seeing a lone Black man chased and beaten by a mob of Whites during the Detroit Race Riot of 1943. She fears he was killed, and is still horrified after all these years.
I did an M.A. thesis at Wayne State University on racial discrimination in the building trades, and worked at the Dept. of Civil Rights for 7 years, but it was only in retirement that I managed to launch an assault on racist stereotypes.
After 30 years of enjoying classical music by White composers, I found two CDs of Black composers in a record store in 1995. That discovery led to more collecting and research, including biographies of "The Black Mozart", Le Chevalier de Saint-George (1745-1799). When I saw his portrait, showing him dressed to conduct an orchestra in 18th century finery, I knew the world needed to see it too.
For 5 years I have had a large bilingual Web site which has had 90,000 visits this year alone, from over 100 countries. Not only does Black Classical Music exist; it is appreciated around the world, especially in Europe.
I know you must be preoccupied with your own important mission on Jim Crow, but I hope you will also have time to visit: www.AfriClassical.com.
Congratulations and thank you on The Jim Crow Museum and your wonderful essay about it.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
-- Oct. 22, 2005