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David Pilgrim, a Black sociologist, runs the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia out of the small, white, Trump-voting town of Big Rapids, MI. With the help of private donors like Chuck and Ward, an elderly gay couple, Pilgrim believes that sharing his expansive collection can change the way racism is perceived in the United States.
Tour the Jim Crow museum with founder and curator, Dr. David Pilgrim. Dr. Pilgrim discusses some of the major themes of the Jim Crow Museum. Jim Crow was not just a character or a set of "laws", it was a system that built upon itself to create and sustain a society with a racial hierarchy.
The final episode, "Terror and Triumph," examines the surge of black activism that took place after World War II. Prolonged legal battles led to Supreme Court decisions that opened doors and restored voting rights for blacks. The battle for freedom, dignity, and opportunity throughout America continued through the '50s and '60s -- and in many respects, continues today.
Episode 3 chronicles the years between World Wars I and II, a time of increased mob violence, lynchings, and massacres of blacks. White supremacy was kept in place by terrorism,but three men, each part of the fledgling NAACP, led campaigns to confront these threats. W.E.B. Du Bois called for veterans of World War I to "return fighting." Walter White went among the lynchers to discover the truth behind the rapes and insurrections allegedly committed by blacks, and Charles Hamilton Houston designed and successfully applied a legal strategy that challenged Jim Crow and resulted in the famous "Brown vs. Board of Education" decision, which desegregated public schools in 1954.
The second episode explores the dramatic rise of a successful black middle class and the determination of white supremacists to destroy this fledgling black political power. Through the efforts of men and women like educator Charlotte Hawkins Brown, African Americans continued to move forward. Black artists created new genres of American music and an intellectual elite, personified by the pioneering W.E.B. Du Bois, emerged. Du Bois, a charter member of the newly founded National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was the editor of its magazine, THE CRISIS. This episode ends with the violence at home giving way to warfare abroad as thousands of black Americans depart for World War I.
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The premiere episode begins with the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction, periods that held so much promise for free black men and women. But as the North gradually withdrew its support for black aspirations for land, civil and political rights, and legal due process, Southern whites succeeded in passing laws that segregated and disfranchised African Americans, laws that were reinforced with violence and terror tactics. By 1876, Reconstruction was over. "Promises Betrayed" recounts black response by documenting the work of such leaders as activist/separatist Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells, as well as the emergence of Booker T. Washington as a national figure.