Recently I went to a conference and heard an author/sociologist by the name of James Loewen speak on the topic of Sundown Towns. Now this was a topic I had never heard about….but I was sad to find out that the city I live in was the birthplace of the concept.
Needless to say, Sundown Towns are:
As recently as the 1960s, many local governments in the United States had official ordinances outlawing African Americans. Rare in the South, these “sundown towns”—named for a sign at the city limits of __________, Wisconsin, that read, “Nig…, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On You In Our Town”—were common in the rest of the country. The Fair Housing Act, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, made it illegal to formally discriminate when selling or renting property. But sundown policies didn’t disappear so much as they went underground, and all-white towns remain even today.
I was amazed at this so I have placed this book on hold from our local library and look forward to learning more about Sundown Towns and what happened with this overt racism that occurred in the past. I am definitely ashamed that the people of this town treated others in this way and I wish that there were someway to change the past. Though there is not, I am sharing this with all of you to make you aware that racism happened in the north as wll as the south.
So do you live in a Sundown Town? You may also want to check out Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
If you don’t live in a Sundown Town, what other types of overt racism have you noticed in your own town or in your lifetime?