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BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - To wander through the new Jim Crow Museum is to realize how much race relations have improved in America, and yet what challenges remain. The $1.3 million historical collection was dedicated duringceremonies in Big Rapids Thursday.

Ferris State University'svice presidentDavid Pilgrim, the museum's driving force, said, "I wanted to build a museum that changed the way people talk about race, a space where people were free to talk challenged to talk - and wanted to talk."

There was plenty of talkingthere Thursday - and some tears. Okia Strickland grew weepy when she told a reporter, "Just so many different mixed emotions... my eyes have opened up... there's hope and theres so much more I can do."

FSU president David Eisler said, "The Jim Crow Museum tells the powerful story of oppression in our country. It is an emotional experience that encourages dialogue and discussion. Through this we can all learn tolerance, understanding and acceptance of differences," Eisler said. "We are fortunate to have at Ferris State University, a museum that conveys our deep commitment to diversity and understanding. I am very grateful to David Pilgrim for creating this compelling collection, sharing this with our university and presenting it so that all can see and experience it."

While most of the artifacts are from the period following the Civil War through the civil rights movement, some were collected only last year. Lisa Kennis, a museum staffer, noted that "a lot of that old racism is being recycled today. It is still out there it's still being produced it's being reproduced on new items."

Admission to the museum is free. It's located in the basement of the university's main library building.