Recognizing racism: Black History Month at Aquinas

A virtual tour of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia hosted by CDI&E. Photo courtesy of Leah Ash

Story by Leah Ash, Culture Editor

The Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity honored and remembered African American history by hosting a virtual tour of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Big Rapids, Michigan.

This event was created in collaboration with a sociology course and an education course, according to Mallory Miller, Assistant Director of CDI&E.

“Our hope is that by looking at the blatantly racist past, we can make connections to current ways of thinking and use those connections to dismantle systemically racist systems,” Miller said.

At the event, campus diversity assistants led a group of people through the museum on a projector, stopping to show videos. After watching the videos, people were invited to speak their thoughts.

Some of the videos presented highlighted individual African Americans and their achievements, like singer Leontyne Price, baseball player Rube Foster and politician Shirley Chisholm.

Campus diversity assistants begin the virtual tour. Photo courtesy of Leah Ash.

After learning about the accomplishments of these African Americans, discussion turned to the stereotypes of African Americans that existed. A Warner Brothers cartoon was shown, and participants said that it depicted African Americans as inhuman and lazy.

Other videos presented included a video on carnival games such as “The African Dodger.” In the carnival game, people would pay money to throw baseballs at African American boys.

One participant spoke up after watching the video on the carnival games: “How many of our current games have their roots in this game?” 

Black History Month is meant not only to look at the history of African Americans, but to learn from it. How are African Americans being treated today, and how does it relate to their treatment throughout history?

CDI&E has a goal for the month of February: Increase awareness on the carceral state of young African American men in the United States.

“One in four young African American men will face incarceration in their lifetime,” Miller said. “And that is an unacceptable statistic which stems from historic racism. I hope experiencing the Jim Crow Museum today helps expose those connections.”

Learn more about Black History Month, the American Carceral state, and campus events at