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The location of the museum — in the shadow of university founder Woodbridge Ferris’ statue — also catches some by surprise. The mostly white college town of Big Rapids is 150 miles from Detroit, the state’s largest predominantly black city.
Ferris, who later served as Michigan governor and as a U.S. senator, founded the school more than a century ago. He once said Americans should work to provide an "education for all children, all men and all women."
Pilgrim, who is also Ferris State’s vice president for diversity and inclusion, initially considered giving his collection to a historically black college, but he wanted to be "near it enough to make sure it was taken care of."
Most of the objects "are anti-black caricatures, everyday objects or they are segregationist memorabilia," he said. Because they represent a cruel, inflammatory past, they "should either be in a garbage can or a museum."
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