Thursday, November 14, 2013

The African-Americans: Many Rivers To Cross

If you've missed any of the brilliant six part PBS documentary series The African-Americans: Many Rivers To Cross, it isn't over yet. The next segment airs on Tuesday, 8pm - 9pm.

This particular segment is my favorite, so far. In it, we take a trip to The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, located on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. To their credit, this museum isn't open to the public.  According to their website, "Visitation is offered only as part of a university-approved academic course, workshop or seminar." 

This is a jigsaw puzzle from 1874, made by the McLouglin Company called Chopped Up Niggers.  I don't know what's more offensive -- the caricatures (who looks like that?!?) or the threat of violence that the title implies.

It's quite breathtaking, how just how far white people went with this imagery and how hard, how tirelessly they worked to distort who we are so they could justify their hatred and ignorance. What am I saying. They're still doing it.

In the meantime, D.E.B. DuBois was presenting hundreds of beautiful portraits of dignified, educated, purposeful black people from the state of Georgia to Europeans during the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900.  

Nevermind the thousands of black performers that travelled internationally since the 1860s, giving the world a glimpse of our true collective blackness. We'll talk about that some other time.

Please check your local listings. This series is essential viewing. (And no, you can't see it outside of US territories.)

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