“The past is never dead. It is not even past.”

William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, 1951

I have known of Sundown Towns ever since I was a little child.

They existed all across America for over 100 years.

They still exist.

North, South, East, West.

They are called “Sundown Towns”, “Sunset Towns”, “Gray Towns”. The name comes from a hateful racist ultimatum, an ultimatum that stated in sign after sign, after sign, posted outside of all-white towns/suburbs/communities:

“Nigger, don’t let the sun go down on you in this town.”

“Whites Only Within the City Limits After Dark.”

Many times the message was point blank enforced with vicious brutal clarity:



Or Die.

And many black Americans did die.

At their peak in 1970, and despite the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, there existed about 10,000 sundown towns that dotted the nation from sea to shining sea. Many of these towns came into existence between 1890 to 1940, during America’s racial nadir holocaust. Many sundown towns continued to exist as lily-white enclaves well into the 1980s, and even beyond. In towns across America, many black people were murdered and the survivors were driven from their homes, property stolen. Towns with names like Greenwood, the “Black Wall Street” of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Towns like Rosewood, Florida. Towns like Wilmington, North Carolina, where America’s second known coup d’etat occurred.  Towns like Forsyth County, Georgia, to name a few.

Sundown Towns still exist all across America in the 21ST Century:

Towns County, Georgia

Deer Park, Washington

Anna, Illinois

Vienna, Illinois

Marion, Ohio

Elwood, Indiana

Owosso, Michigan

Lamar, Missouri

Vidor, Texas

Berwyn, Illinois

Cut and Shoot, Texas

Ironwood, Michigan

Norman, Oklahoma


Sundown suburbs:

Levittown, New York

Livonia, Michigan

Parma, Ohio

Cicero, Chicago, Illinois

Darien, Connecticutt

Naperville, Illinois

Edina, Minnesota

Effingham, Illinois ( as of the 2010 Census, 97.6% White, 0.5% Black, 1.7% Hispanic)*

Many U.S. presidents hailed from sundown towns:

-Theodore Roosevelt (Cove Neck, New York)

-William McKinley (Niles, Ohio)

-George W. Bush (Highland Park, Texas)

Besides presidents, famous Americans lived in Sundown Towns:

-Dale Carnegie (Maryville, Missouri)

-Woody Guthrie (Okemah, Oklahoma) [Town, where in 1911, Laura Nelson and her young son were lynched.]

-Joe McCarthy (Appleton, Wisconsin)

-Emily Post (Tuxedo Park, New York)

Numerous inventions were created in Sundown Towns:

-Spam (Austin, Minnesota), Kentucky Fried Chicken (Corbin, Kentucky),  and Tootsie Rolls (West Lawn, Chicago). Even “Tarzan” was created in a Sundown Town. Tarzan may have been born in “darkest Africa”, but his origins occurred in one Sundown Town (Oak Park, California, home of Edgar Rice Burroughs), and the proceeds from his very profitable novels and movies underwrote Burroughs’s creation of another sundown town (Tarzana, California).


“Is it true that ‘Anna’ stands for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’?” I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I stopped to buy coffee.

“Yes,” the store clerk replied. “That’s sad, isn’t it?” she added, distancing herself from the policy. And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.”

“I understand racial exclusion is still going on?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.
“That’s sad.”

-conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October 2001 (1)


During slavery, Sundown Towns  were in the minority. With the abolition of slavery and with formerly enslaved blacks of the Great Migration moving North, the Mid-West and the West to escape the cruelties of Jim Crow segregation of the South, whites in those areas began to envision ways to keep their towns and communities all-white. A sundown town is any organized jurisdiction that has for decades forced out and kept black Americans or other groups from living in it and was thus “all-white” on purpose.  Lynchings became prominent after 1890, when the legal institution of segregation began to harden, especially with the previous compromise of the safety of former ex-slaves just two decades before, under the adminstration of President Rutherford B. Hayes and the handing of former ex-slaves back into the hands of their racist white tormentors. Under Jim/Jane Crow segregation, black people could not vote, could not use public parks their tax dollars paid for; could not frequent restaurants. As lynchings rose, so too did the desire of many whites to drive black citizens from their midsts——-forever.

Race relations grew hatefully horrific between 1890 and the 1940s. As Edwin Yoder, Jr. wrote in 2003 in the Washington Post:

“Notwithstanding the brilliant revisionist works of the late C. Vann Woodward, few Americans even remotely grasp the earthquake of 1890-1901 that overthrew biracial voting in the South.”  (2)

The racial attacks against black citizens was not limited to the South—-but was national. This same earthquake struck the North with a vengeance. Many historians have ignored this hidden dimension of America’s racist past and in so doing, have never tried to compile, document and present historical eveidence of the creation of sundown towns, their legacy and how and why sundowns came into being, as well as researching the existence of the many sundown towns that still exist all across present-day America. Because of this historical amnesia of many historians, they have not brought to light one of the most brutal forms of ethnic cleansing that America has allowed to occur:  sundown towns. (1)

Sundown town are not only widespread, but are relatively recent. Most towns did not go sundown until after slavery, before the Civil War, or even during Reconstruction. Black people moved everywhere in America between 1865 and 1890—Montana, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, to name just a few places. Black people lived in many communities across America. (1)

But, between 1890 and the 1940s, that all changed. Across America, cities, counties and neighborhoods grew more and more segregated as whites feared the economic and social advances of the former ex-slaves. All across America, from California to Minnesota to Long Island to Florida—white Americans created ethnic cleansing against black citizens, expelling entire black communities or intimidating and keeping out potential would-be neighbors.



The past is always with us, and nowhere is that more noted than in the many well-known sundown towns of America’s racist pogroms against her black citizens.

Here is a link to two posts I wrote on America’s ethnic cleansing of her black citizens in Greenwood, Rosewood, and Wilmington—the most well-known of racial violence on a massive scale:

Suffice it to say, America’s history speaks for itself.



Many Americans love to convince themselves that not only have sundown towns never existed in large numbers, but, also that sundown towns no longer exist.

But, they do.

Sundown towns are not aberrant, random acts. They are well-thought out, methodically planned communities of agreed upon policies that permanently drove out black citizens. The existence of sundown towns has been sanctioned from the federal government, to the state government, to the county government, to the municpal government—right down to the denizens who live in all-white communities. Housing discrimination, zoning ordinances, economic discrimination all work hand-in-hand to continue and enforce sundown town mentality all across this nation. The sundowning of America has not ended. It is a constant and evolving monster that will never go away. Millions of Americans, knowingly, and unknowingly, have grown up in sundown towns—including many of America’s leaders, and today in the 21ST Century this process of pushing Black Americans into pariah status is so normal as to be considered sane and rational. There is no more need for signs that blatantly state “Nigger, don’t let the sun go down on you in this town”. The hatred of Black Americans is burned into the psyches of all those who are not black, allowing for a complacent and vicious maltreatment of Black U.S. citizens on all levels. There is no need to utter the word nigger, post signs, or blow a whistle as the Sun sets, when the borg mentality of a sundown community shows in word and deed the hatred and contempt it has for its fellow Black American citizens. When that hatred is condoned, accepted, and not challenged. Some say that only a few bad apples live in sundown communities, but, if there were “good people” who lived in these communities, they would rise up and challenge the wrongs perpetuated by sundown socities—-therefore, these “good people” do not exist. Their silence is acceptance of the cruelty and venom of sundown communities.

What are the things we can do to investigate and raise the issue of sundown towns? The following are some actions we can take in pulling back the covers of racial amnesia on the history of sundown towns and their still lingering effect on America:

-Start with the latest United States Census (gather information on demographics and the population shift change of blacks) and how a town that had a black population changed to white over a period of time;

-Go to your local library: neighborhood, city and county. Invest time in also using university libraries which can have information not readily found at city and county libraries. Many libraries have archives of newspapers which would give accounts of economic, political, social changes which would indirectly point towards  the banishment of entire black citizens, as well as whites who took over the property by adverse possession;

-Use city hall’s records. Check for any evidence of racial redlining as well as government (federal and state) of racial restrictive covenants;

-Talk to the elderly—those in your family, community as well as nursing homes. You will find with patience, tact and diplomacy, you can obtain information from senior citizens who can remember past lived events as if they happened yesterday. Some will talk; many will not want to, as this is a painful part of America’s history that is yet to be reconciled;

-Look at the composition of neighborhood environs, especially in living domiciles. Are there homes located only in the town, with more newer homes being built, as opposed to no apartments going up for tenants to rent? Lack of apartment housing tells a huge story about a sundown town, especially if the residents fought against a real estate developer seeking to build apartments in that town. Some apartments can be so high-priced that they are out of the price range of an up-and-coming working-class person who desires to find work and a home in that town.

Do the streets have a covoluted, twisting and turning design to them? Supposedly this is to confuse people who may take a wrong turn and end up in the neighborhood. In its own twisted logic, this is supposed to prevent crime under the assumption that a non-resident is more likely to not commit crime in an area they are not familiar with;

-Document cases of racial profiling and police harassment. Constant surveillance, stop-and-frisk violations of the Fourth Amendment and being followed by police when driving through gated and sundown communities still lends credence towards the reality of Driving While Black;

-Do a “test case” on a certain real estate company or apartment/townhome. Send in a black couple to see how they are treated, then send in a white couple to see how they are treated. Compile evidence of any  “steering” done by the real estate agents. Agents who commit such acts are in defiance of federal laws and risk a revocation of their licence;

-Check out the racial makeup of businesses, factories, and other places of employment. Does the racial makeup indicate overwhelming white and non-black employees? There may be hostility towards hiring qualified blacks as well as fostering a work environment that is hellish for blacks;

-Act on what you have gathered. Take it upon yourself to track down the history of a specific town. Check the population demographics of the present-day, check the employment situation, i.e.: Is there more unemployment for a specific group, such as higher unemployment for black women as opposed to other groups? Are there more people of other non-white races living there than black citizens? Document, write it down and get the information out.

Examine the backgrounds of a suspected sundown town.

Question why this town has no black residents.

Acknowledge the fact that the savagery of sundown towns existed, for by not bringing the evidence of their history out into the open, we insult all the hundreds of thousands of non-whites who have been destroyed from this most inhumane racist social phenomenom. America must acknowledge that these towns happened.  Yes, America the so-called moral land of the free, did such atrocities to her most defenseless citizens.  Knowledge of sundown towns must be learned, not run from, not swept under the rug anymore. Question the all-white communities you come across in your travels through America. Ask yourself, “Why? Why are there no black citizens living here? Why would those black citizens not want to live here surrounded with excellent schools, clean neighborhoods, good paying jobs?” Cease taking for granted that millions of black citizens are happy in their place in the “white” social order.  Check census records that show a town with a history of being overwhelmingly white for 50-, 70-, 100- years.

When you come across evidence of actual sundown towns, tell the truth about America’s racist history of ethnic cleansing. No longer let the truth languish under the lies of deceit that has reigned in America’s racist mockery of the principles upon which this country was founded.

Know and understand that the status quo will fight you tooth-and-nail for trying to bring the truth to light. This country’s institutionalized powers do not want its citizens to learn of this country’ true racist past, structual powers that cover all facets of American life—real estate companies, lending companies/banks, to name just a few. The existence and knowledge of the truth about sundown towns implicates the powers that control this country. The role played by the government in allowing lawless race hatred to destroy countless black lives can hardly be dismissed with more denial and ignorance anymore. From the gray towns that passed ordinances barring blacks, to the sheriffs who bodily “escorted” black citizens out of their own homes, business, communities, to the states that passed laws enabling cities to zone out “undesirables” as well as create interzones where prostitution, drugs and other crimes of vice were steered towards black neighborhoods and away from white neighborhoods, all the way up to the federal government—whose lending and insuring policies in FHA loans from the 1930s to the 1960s required sundown neighborhoods and suburbs—this country openly, unashamedly and aggressively favored white supremacy and worked hand-in-hand to help create the many sundown towns, many of which still exist today in present-day 21ST Century America. (1)

If you desire to learn if you live(d) in a sundown town you may do the following. Check your town’s Chamber of Commerce, local historical/genealogical societies. Search public library records of old newspapers and periodicals. Seek out elderly residents of the town; they may know of the history of that town, especially if they lived there all their lives. We have to learn to deal with this monstrous part of America’s history, for how can we ever learn to deal with sundown towns and their legacy if we are not willing to face up to the fact of their exsitence then and their existence now?

Sundown towns are not just in all-white cities.

They exist alive and well in the many gated communities all across America, communities that exist and survive along racial and economic class lines.

Many Americans ask themselves why is that black citizens remain the outsiders in this supposed moral society that rewards hard work.  Many people wonder why black citizens have made so little progress in the following 143 years after the abolition of slavery. What they do not know is that there was a time when black Americans lived in better more racially diverse conditions during the 1870s and the earlier 1880s, when Reconstruction was struggling to avoid the vise-like death grip that burgeoning white supremacy had caught it in during the adminstrations of Andrew Johnson and Rutherford Hayes.  Many Americans do not realize that de jure residential segregation grew progressivly worse until around 1968, and that it did not start to somewhat decrease until the 1970s, 1980s, well after the Civil Rights Movement had ended.

This was decades of contempt towards the humanity of black citizens.

In many areas of America, black citizens have made some gains due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the continued enforcement of the 14TH Amendment.

But, in the realm of housing, in the realm of neighborhoods and communities across America, in the name of whom shall be allowed to live next door to you (and whom shall not be allowed)—-race still matters.

Segregated communities allow discrimination to exclude black citizens from American life. Segregation exacerbates exclusion and isolation, making it easier to discriminate against black citizens in schooling, housing, employment and even city services—services that black citizen’s tax dollars help pay for. The very same inadequacies that so many white Americans blame black people for are the results of decades of, rather than excuses for, residential segregation and its legacy.

All-white communities make it easier for whites to think racist perceptions of black citizens:

Black Americans faced cruel mistreatment in traveling throughout parts of America, so much so, that a book was compiled to help Black citizens navigate the hellish nightmare that awaited them when driving through sundown towns, and across America while traveling the country of their birth. The title of this book was “The Negro Motorist Green Book”. It provided information on stops at gasoline stations, hotels, restaurants, national parks, etc., for the traveling black motorist, before the passage of the Public Accommodation Laws  (of the Civil Rights Act of 1964):

Images: From the Collections of The Henry Ford. 1) Excerpts from 87.135.1736

The Negro Motorist Green Book, 1949

The Negro traveler’s inconveniences,” writes Wendell P. Alston in The Negro Motorist Green Book for 1949, “are many and they are increasing because today so many more are traveling, individually and in groups. . . .

The GREEN BOOK with its list of hotels, boarding houses, restaurants, beauty shops, barber shops and various other services can most certainly help solve your travel problems. It was the idea of Victor H. Green, the publisher, in introducing the Green Book, to save the travelers of his race as many difficulties and embarrassments as possible.”

SOURCE Click here to see the complete edition of The Negro Motorist Green Book in pdf format.

The Negro Motorist Green-Book, 1940
The New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
“The Negro Motorist Green-Book was the brainchild of Victor Green, a New York City travel agent, who first published it in 1936. Then a local guide, the Green Book expanded to include national listing of which tourist businesses would serve black customers. This 1940 edition, prepared in conjunction with the United States Travel Bureau, cost twenty five cents, and covered “Hotels, Taverns, Garages, Night-Clubs, Restaurants, Service-Stations, Automotive, Tourist-Homes, Road-Houses, Barber-Shops, Beauty-Parlors.”
Roads were open to all motorists, but the facilities that lined them were not. African Americans who could afford to purchase a car declared the automobile was a way to avoid the ignominy of the Jim Crow car on the railroads. As George Schuyler declared in 1930, “…Negroes who can do so purchase an automobile as soon as possible in order to be free of discomfort, discrimination, segegation, and insult.” But, in practice, the discriminatory policies of hotels, tourist cabins, and other lodgings made highway travel difficult, and tarnished the “freedom” of the open road. African Americans responded by creating African American holiday resorts such as Idelwild, Michigan, and by creating guides to help travelers negotiate their way through the racially charged American terrain.”


It is an effrontery that sundown towns still exists in a country that prides itself on decent values of justice, fairness and equality. In addition to maintaining the racist white status quo, racial segregation of sundown towns allow whites to think of non-whites as less than human—sub-human. White adults especially those living in sundown towns accept opposing policies that might decrease the sharp differences that exist between the chances for black citizens to improve and upgrade their abysmal station in life, differences that allow whites to excel at the expense of blacks.


Where and how we live says a lot about us, and eliminating all-white sundown towns, neighborhoods and gated communities will lessen racial prejudice and stereotypes.

Sociologists have long known that when people live together in the same environment, when people not only work on a job, but, then go home to live in the same community, go to the same schools, go to the same homes—-go to worship in the same houses of faith—that it becomes nearly impossible to continue to see blacks and non-whites as the continual “Other”.  Racial integration can and does work—when it is given a chance, and when those who live in sundown communities work to build communities of inclusion, as opposed to communities of exclusion, people cease to become “things” and start to become humans in the eyes of opposing different groups.

As sociologist Robert Park wrote decades ago:

“Most if not all cultural changes in society will be correlated with changes in territorial organization, and every change in the territorial and occupational distribution of the population will affect changes in existing culture.” (1)

If America wants a stronger, more diverse non-racist country, America must start with the dismantling of her sundown towns and communities.

But, in the end, it will be left up to whites.

They are the ones who created sundown towns. They are the ones who created the concept of “whiteness”, racial constructs and the infamous “Other”.

They will have to lead a true fight against the continuance of sundown towns.



The author James Loewen of the book, “Sundown Towns” made an excellent suggestion on how to bring about the end of sundown towns and how to make America a truly inclusionary nation.


The diversity ban that created sundown towns was sanctioned by more than a century of laws, covenants, government policies, courts and racial violence by good citizens.

“Many towns and suburbs since then have admitted people of color. However, others resist. Just as the government sanctioned sundown towns and suburbs, government now should force them to change”, Loewen said.

He advocates a “Residents Rights Act” “that makes it in an entire town’s interest to welcome black Americans.”  “Government improvement funds should be withheld until communities welcome blacks, an act that “parallels “the registration clause of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (extended and strengthened in 1982). This law provides that in counties with an unusual disparity between the per centage of the black and white electorates registered to vote, the department of Justice can send in federal examiners, once complaints have been received from 10 individuals who were rebuffed when trying to register. Similarly…the Resident’s Rights Act will trigger sanctions—when coupled with at least 2 valid complaints from families who were rebuffed when trying to buy or rent a home in the community and a careful showing  that it was a sundown town.”

Loewen said people in communities that refuse also should lose their ability to deduct mortgage interest from taxes. It would make property in such areas less valuable. “The Residents’ Rights Act requires not integration but an end to exclusion,” Loewen said. Congress or a state “could pass a Resident’s Right Act. If Congress acted, the required complaints would go to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which would have the power to hear complaints of recent discrimination and collect evidence on whether the town has a sundown past. The first consequence for towns that trigger the Resident’s Rights Act will be federal housing examiners, parallel to elections examiners, investigating complaints, provide community relations services to the town, and meet with town officials, real estate agents, schools, and representatives of churches and other organizations to try to create an atmosphere more hospitable to black citizens or others claiming to have been excluded.” (1)

Take the Clean Air Act. It sanctions and levies fines, against cities/states which do not adhere to this environmental law. Under its provisions, if a city’s air quality falls below a certain minimum, no more federal/state tax dollars can be spent on highways and development until it cleans up its air. The same can be done under the Resident’s Rights Act, in this case, the dismantling of the continued existence of sundown towns. (1)

Similarly the Resident’s Rights Act will operate along similar lines in the withholding of federal tax dollars from towns that knowingly have a sundown town history and that continue to discriminate in present-day America. No more tax dollars “can be spent on discretionary programs in a sundown town or suburb until it cleans up its *act* in segregation. Tax money for innocent people (disaster relief) will still flow. Ongoing expenditures will not be affected. But the town will be shut from seeking funds for sewage facilities, police training, and 1,001 other programs. Afterall, every dollar of federal and state tax money spent in a sundown town community is a dollar spent *ONLY* on white Americans, yet collected from *ALL AMERICANS*.” [Caps my emphasis.] (1)

Of course this may not work in affluent towns/communities. Making sundown towns that are rich ineligible for federal or state funds may not suffice. As Loewen stated, “some school districts and institutions of higher education simply turned their backs on funds for education, loans for dormitories, and the like, choosing to stay segregated.” (1)

Here a simpler solution can come into play as Loewen states, involving the use of the income tax code:

“denial of the federal home mortgage interest deduction. This deduction has long been one of the important ways our tax code favors middle-and higher-income Americans, allowing homeowners to deduct the largest single component of their housing outlay, while renters get no such break. The rationale for this deduction is our national interest in encouraging home ownership.

“Surely America has no national interest in encouraging home ownership in sundown towns, however. So it should grant no exemption for mortgage interest payments by homeowners who choose to live in such communities.”

America should not have black or white neighborhoods. As Loewen stated, it “should have neighborhoods.” (1)

We have not achieved full democracy and equality in America.

It is way past time to stop telling ourselves the lies that all have made it. We have to accept that structural/institutional government approval of continued racism will no longer be tolerated in a country that prides itself on being the champion of the basic rights of all citizens who reside in its confines.


It is in America’s national interest to desegregate as the Warren Court stated with “full and deliberate speed”. (1)

The history of sundown towns has been hidden for too long. Time for the history of sundown towns to come out of the shadowy realms of ignorance and denial, and for their reality to come into the light of acknowledgement, atonement and obliteration.

Time to finally end the long reign of terror that is discrimination, a time that is way long past overdue.



1.  “Sundown Towns:  A Hidden Dimension of Segregation in America”, by James Loewen, The New Press, 2005, pg. 4.

2.  C. Vann Woodward, The Strange Career of Jim Crow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975 [1955];  Edwin Yoder, Jr., “The People, Yes,” Washington Post Book World, 6/15/2003, pg.6.



Ray Stanard Baker,  Following the Color Line (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1964 [1908]

Malcolm Brown and John Webb (WPA), Seven Stranded Coal Towns (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1941)

Rayford W. Logan, The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, reprinted as The Betrayal of the Negro (NY: MacMillan Collier, 1965 [1954]).


James Loewen’s website:

















THE NEGRO TRAVELER’S GREENBOOK (1956) 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION  This edition addresses air transportation travel for black Americans, and even speaks of travel to the moon, where it would not surprise me if Jane Crow segregation makes its way into outer space and interplanetary travel in the future.


A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism by James W. Loewen (Paperback – Oct 3, 2006)
3.9 out of 5 stars (20)
The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America
Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America by Elliot Jaspin (Hardcover – Mar 5, 2007)
4.8 out of 5 stars (4)
Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen (Paperback – Oct 16, 2007)
3.9 out of 5 stars (385)
What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong
Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong by James W. Loewen (Hardcover – Oct 1, 1999)Bargain Price
3.4 out of 5 stars (69)


At the time I wrote my essay, I did not mention that some of the sundown towns I spoke of may have rescinded their sundown ordinances/polices in the last 8 years. Therefore, a sundown town that may have been one at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census, may have allowed black Americans in since then. Since the next U. S. Census is not until 2010, I used the demographics from those towns which at the time may have not had a black population at the time.

Some towns may have a per centage of black residents living there, with the per centage anywhere between >1.00% or upwards of  <5.00% of the total population.

If a sundown town now has black residents living there in at least >10.0%, then I no longer consider that town a “sundown town”. Keep in mind that 1.00%  black residents of a sundown town is still too low for the general population ratio of black Americans (at the time of the 2000 U. S. Census, black people were approximately 13% of the U. S. population). Even though the numbers of black residents living in former sundown towns are still low, still, that is a start.

But, those are just numbers.

How the quality of life (friendliness/acceptance of neighbors; work environment; personal relationships between the black families and their white neighbors; personal relationships/dating/friendships for the black children/teenagers)  is for the black residents is something only they can answer to. Those factors tell whether life for black residents of former-sundown towns is a quality of life for them.

Also to be taken into consideration, what are the numerical ratios of black residents in comparison to non-black residents? Since America has a racist hierarchy of favoritism of non-black groups (Latinos, Asians, Arabs, etc.) over her black citizens, one must question why a particular former-sundown town has more non-black residents than black residents? One must question why white-dominated America is still more accepting of ethnic whites, and other non-blacks? One must question why America still continues to harbor disparagement and the bestowing of a pariah status on her black citizens? One must question why are Latinos, Asians and other non-black groups are given more favored status in a former-sundown town in opposition to a denigrated status that is constantly given to black citizens all across America?

Are black residents given less acceptance than those of non-black racial/ethnic groups in these former-sundown towns? Are black residents still the outsiders…still the anti-neighbors….still the anti-citizens…in all of America’s eyes?

Some sundown towns in 2008 can be taken off my list.

Sadly, there are still many more out there which cannot.


The following revisions are noted above with an asterisk:  *Effingham, Illinois, was a sundown town, with the racist sundown signs coming down by the 1960s.



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68 responses to “SUNDOWN TOWNS

  1. Victor

    I want to learn more about this subject.
    When the legacy of Sundown Towns are considered, the poisonous nature of race hatred is obvious. The institutional past and present of these towns should be exposed.

    The external impact of racial hatred can be addressed with programs and laws, but I wonder how these remedies will impact the MINDS of those that benefit from institutional racism?

    The legacy of the Sundown Town concept can impact different people in “different” ways. I was having a conversation with a co-worker once about racial history here in North Carolina. She told me that there is a town in central North Carolina where everyone in the town is “passing”. She told me that I would not be welcome in that town…since I’m a dark skinned black man. I don’t know if I believe that story, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be true. I should take a trip there to see for myself.
    And ,speaking of North Carolina, I thought that Krispy Kreme originated in Winston-Salem?:)

    This is a very relevant subject to black americans, especially. It is relevant to us as PEOPLE and not as “statistics” or as “case studies”. That’s what I like about this site. The topics are always relevant and thought provoking.

  2. Ann

    “I want to learn more about this subject.”

    When I started my essay, I thought of making it into a two-, or three-part triology, but, I decided to write my thoughts down in one essay. (It took me long enough to write this one:)

    The history of Sundown Towns is a shameful ignored and unknown part of America’s history, and this is one essay I have meant to write for at least a year. Finally got it up and out.

    “The external impact of racial hatred can be addressed with programs and laws, but I wonder how these remedies will impact the MINDS of those that benefit from institutional racism? ”

    You can’t really do much with people’s minds. That even includes the people that you go to work with. I concentrate on making the law work for me if and when I need it. I feel that as long as I have the law on my side (OSHA, Department of Labor, Voting Rights Act, 14TH Amendment, etc.), then I can at least keep some racist and sexist people off me and out of my life.

    “She told me that there is a town in central North Carolina where everyone in the town is “passing”. She told me that I would not be welcome in that town…since I’m a dark skinned black man. I don’t know if I believe that story, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be true. I should take a trip there to see for myself.”

    Wow…sick…absolutely abominable, if that is true. But, it would not surprise me if I were true; WS has done a real number on the minds of everyone in this country.

    “And ,speaking of North Carolina, I thought that Krispy Kreme originated in Winston-Salem?:)”

    I should point out that this information came from the book by Loewen. Here is the source of that information on Effingham, Illinois and Krispy Kreme donuts:

    “30. Since 2002, most Krispy Kreme mix has been made in a new factory in Effingham.” (3)

    3. “Sundown Towns”, Chapter 1, Introduction, pg. 13.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Pingback: Sundown Towns « The Blog and the Bullet

  4. Nan

    You can add Ironwood, Michigan, to the list. It’s in Upper Michigan, which is about as far north as you can go in this country and not be knee-deep in Lake Superior starting to swim to Canada. About the only African-Americans who ever came through there at the time the local ordinance was written were working as porters or dining car attendants on the passenger trains, but that didn’t stop the racists from promoting hate.

  5. Jumper

    Any thoughts on the ‘Sundown Towns’ where whites aren’t allowed after dark? Camden, NJ. South Central LA, CA. Ida B. Wells, Chicago, IL. Detroit, MI. Flint, MI. Those are just off the top of my head, there are many, many others.

    So, have anything to say about those? I didn’t think so, hypocrite.

    • Melvin Patterson

      I DO!! DON’T EVEN GO THERE!! Whatever hostilities that were in these communities towards non-whites were not from feelings of origin, but because of malice! When you treat some one with contempt and hostility do you honestly expect for that person to except you in open arms? Even animals won’t tolerate mistreatment so what makes you think humans should? Oh, but it sounds to me your one of those people who try to use reverse psycology to make it look like what your doing to us is our of own doing! Sorry charlie , Blacks are seeing through that now! By the way Ida B. Wells is (or was a Chicago housing project) not a city, and South Central L A is a general area of the city Los Angeles, not not a city itself so get your geography straight DR. RACIST IN THE CLOSET HYPOCRITE!

      • Melvin Patterson

        I DO!! DON’T EVEN GO THERE!! Whatever hostilities that were in these communities towards whites were not from feelings of origin, but because of malice! When you treat some one with contempt and hostility do you honestly expect for that person to except you in open arms? Even animals won’t tolerate mistreatment so what makes you think humans should? Oh, but it sounds to me your one of those people who try to use reverse psycology to make it look like what your doing to us is our of own doing! Sorry charlie , Blacks are seeing through that now! By the way Ida B. Wells is (or was a Chicago housing project) not a city, and South Central L A is a general area of the city Los Angeles, not not a city itself so get your geography straight DR. RACIST IN THE CLOSET HYPOCRITE!

    • Jordan

      Jumper, uh, didn’t most whites move (flee) out of those areas you mentioned when blacks and other minorities started moving in? You do know that Ida B. Wells is a project and not a town??? LOL.

  6. Ann

    “Camden, NJ. South Central LA, CA. Ida B. Wells, Chicago, IL. Detroit, MI. Flint, MI.”

    Where is your proof that these “towns” committed racial atrocities against whites?
    Where is your proof that whites had property (homes, businesses) stolen from them through state/government-sanctioned pogroms? Where is your proof that blacks barred whites entry into these towns, with signs that read: “Whites, don’t let the sun go down on YOU in this town”? Where is your proof that whites had to be out of town by sunset, or, by the sounding of a whistle that alerted them to leave—-or die? Where is your proof that blacks who live in these towns practiced red-lining, gerrymandering, or restrictive racist covenants against whites? Where is your proof that black neighbors/real estate firms had black home owners sign contracts NOT to sell homes/property to whites looking to buy property in black neighborhoods?

    (Do not quote crime statistics because the high crime rates in a town like Camden affect the poor residents who live in Camden. The high joblessness affects the minorities who live in Camden, joblessness and sub-standard neighborhood infrastructure which is a result of decades of segregation and the federal subsidies that flowed to all-white suburbs building up THEIR TAX BASE, taxes which came from BOTH black and white citizens.)

    Where is the historical documentation you can produce where blacks segregated whites into sub-standard education, non-existent economic opportunities, disenfranchisement in denying whites the right to vote?

    Where is your proof that blacks living in the inner cities destroyed the social/legal/educational/ political/opportunities of whites through the legal loopholes of Jim Crow, de jure as well as de facto? Where is your proof that blacks had the entire government (local/state/federal), with the government on their side to attack, loot, murder, lynch, and legally take away the rights of CITIZENSHIP of whites?

    Present your evidence.

    Convince me.

    Prove it to me.

  7. Ann


    “You can add Ironwood, Michigan, to the list. It’s in Upper Michigan, which is about as far north as you can go in this country and not be knee-deep in Lake Superior starting to swim to Canada.”

    Thanks for that info. There are so many sundown towns in America that they number in the thousands—-known and unknown.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Ann


    Thanks so much for that outstanding link. Reading David’s excellent post was like reading an expanded version of mine—–with many more examples.

    America has long gone past time to get with the program of treating ALL of her CITIZENS as fellow equal human beings.

    Practicing venomous racial hatred has nearly destroyed this country, both black and white—and everyone else in between.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Jen

    Perhaps a dumb question, but I am not sure.

    I work in the town next to Naperville, IL, a sundown town, apparently. I sometimes go there, not often, but there is a great bookstore there. How is it a sundown town? I suppose part of my difficulty here is defining the term today- Does it mean that blacks aren’t allowed to live there? That they simply don’t (either due to choice or economic factors or are seeking diversity)? That there are laws against them? I swear I have seen black people there, so I am not sure what the term means. Admittedly, I have never looked up statistics on who lives there, though they certainly have a reputation as a rich suburb.

  10. Ann

    ” I swear I have seen black people there, so I am not sure what the term means.”

    In what capacity have you ‘seen’
    black people?

    -Working at a department store, gas station, grocery store?
    -Living in a neighborhood where they were buying/or own their own home?

    Explain what you mean by “seeing black people”.

  11. Adam

    Hi Ann,

    I believe you are the same “Ann” that I had a discussion with on another forum this last week.

    You had mentioned Cicero and I did find that curious until I began reading more. Naperville, IL was a no-brainer, but I was surprised to see Berwyn, IL. The neighboring town of Maywood is actually 80% African-American. Yes, the more I think about it, the Metro area around Chicago is really a patchwork.

    I read the information you provided me on Sundown Towns and other sites as well. Doesn’t look good for Illinois – historically or presently.
    Downstate Illinois did not suprise all that much.

    First, I think the Sundown town aspect of our history answers my unasked question of “why I have never met many black folks in rural areas of the Midwest”.

    Second, I thought to myself, “I wonder if Pekin, IL is listed as a Sundown town”. And lo and behold, there it is.

    Last year – one friend of mine, a white woman who is the spouse of black man (and my daughter’s basketball coach) walked up to me and said, “Jason was told to leave Pekin before sundown, why?”

    I looked at the ground and put my hands in my pocket and said to her, “I completely forgot about that. (Because I am white and I can move in and out with ease.) Yes, let’s leave together after the basketball game.”

    I turned to my wife several minutes later and said , “Do remember the harrassment your brother endured after leaving a football game years ago? This place has not changed.”

    Hoping for better days ahead,


    • Melvin Patterson

      And don’t forget the bridgeport area in Chicago even in the 21st century. I have not heard of any blacks owning any property there except maybe a cop or other exception. Asians and hispanics thrive very well there but as a Black man you still better not be at the intersection of 35th & Halsted streets after 10:00! Racial hostility is still alive and well in bridgeport!

  12. Ann

    Hello, Adam.

    Yes, I appreciate the discussion we had at Rachel’s. I know I ask pointed and blunt questions, but, if WE do not question the social order in which we all live, how will we come to learn and understand what must be done to dismante the hate and division that still plagues America?

    Yes, the North was more sinister and hidden in its hatred of its black citizens. Race hatred flowed not only from native-born whites, but, also from ethnic “whites” who sought inclusion with racist native whites, at the cruel expense of their fellow black citizens.

    It will take a long time to obliterate the embedded savagery of white supremacy.

    Probably 10,000 to 15,000 years.

    I may be pessimistic, but, reality has to be faced.

    Sundown towns still exist.

    America’s denial of her past still persists.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Jen

    Sorry, I have not had internet access for some time.

    By “have seen black people” in Naperville I mean I have seen them shopping in the area. Again, I don’t live there, and I don’t work there, though I work in Aurora, the town right next to Naperville. In Aurora, I work in a grocery store, and I have black co-workers and black customers (many are there after dark).

    According to the Census report, 3% of people living in Naperville, or about 3800 people, are African-American. Other minorities make up 12% of the population. (

    I will try to visit Naperville after hours sometime soon.

  14. Ann

    Thanks for your response.

    I have since added a NOTE to my post concerning the population of sundown towns that now have black residents living there.

  15. Jen

    Oh! Sorry I did not notice that. I am going to look into some of those books you recommended, too, and try to learn more about this because it is just too awful (but not necessarily suprising) that this is still occuring.



  18. Ann,

    This story breaks our hearts and makes me more outraged at a society and a system that covered-up the murder of a young Black woman in Martinsville, Indiana, a sundown town, back in 1968.

    The Carol Jenkins slaying

    Suspect dies before trial in 1968 Martinsville stabbing

    Carol Jenkins’ school portrait.

    On Sept. 16, 1968, a young black woman selling encyclopedias was brutally stabbed to death in the town of Martinsville.

    For more than 34 years the murder of Carol Marie Jenkins remained unsolved.

    But on May 8, 2002, police arrested Kenneth C. Richmond, a 70-year-old career criminal with a history of bizarre behavior and affiliation with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

    Investigators said Richmond was implicated in the crime by his daughter, Shirley Richmond McQueen, who witnessed the slaying as a child.

    State police detectives, working in a “cold crimes” squad, were led to McQueen by an anonymous letter. When questioned, they said, she finally confirmed what the letter alleged — that as a 7-year-old, she had watched from the back seat of a car as her father and another, still-unidentified man killed Jenkins.

    Kenneth C. Richmond shown at left in a 1985 booking photo and at right after his arreest in 2002.

    Detectives said they were convinced of McQueen’s story in part because she remembered a key detail which had never been made public — that Jenkins was wearing a yellow scarf.

    McQueen, by then 40, reportedly gave Indiana State Police detectives the following account: Jenkins began to flee when she saw the two men running at her. The other man held Jenkins while Richmond grabbed a screwdriver from the front seat in their car and stabbed her, McQueen said she still recalls what her father said when he returned to the car: “She got what she deserved.” When they got home, her father gave her $7 — one dollar for each year of her life — to keep quiet about what she had seen.

    Residents of Martinsville were relieved that the suspect in the case had not been a Martinsville resident. At the time of the killing, Richmond lived on a Hendricks County farm and was just passing through Martinsville on the night Carol Jenkins died. Martinsville’s racist reputation was largely based on the Jenkins slaying, though there had been other racial incidents.

    But Richmond never went to trial for Jenkin’s murder. He was declared incompetent to stand trial and on Aug. 31, 2002 he died of cancer.

    Selected stories on the 1968 Carol Jenkins murder case
    Murder suspect dies of cancer
    Kenneth Richmond was implicated by his daughter last year in 1968 killing of woman.
    By Bruce C. Smith, Sept. 1, 2002

    Trial canceled in Martinsville murder case
    Richmond is ruled not legally competent to stand trial due to cancer, mental illness.
    By Bruce Smith, Aug. 17, 2002

    Racist reputation still haunts Martinsville
    Arrest of out-of-towner in 1968 killing of young black woman only part of solution, some say.
    By Bruce C. Smith, May 19, 2002

    Key clue led to arrest in Martinsville case
    Carol Jenkins, known as a neat dresser, was wearing a yellow scarf when she was killed.
    By Bruce C. Smith, May 12, 2002

    ‘Cold crimes’ detectives had major role in Martinsville case
    By Bruce C. Smith, May 12, 2002

    Police arrest man in brutal ’68 slaying
    Woman accuses dad in case that marked Martinsville as racist.
    By Bruce C. Smith, May 09, 2002

    Suspect has faced similar charges before
    Richmond acquitted of murder, found not guilty of attempted murder due to insanity in ’80s cases.
    By Diana Penner, May 09, 2002

    Victim knew door-to-door job carried potential for danger
    By Diana Penner, May 09, 2002

    More on Carol Jenkins’ Murder Case at:

    “Who Killed Carol Jenkins?” – New Yorker, Jan.7, 2002, page 24.

    Stephanie B.

  19. Jenelle

    I am very disappointed that you see Pekin as such an awful and racist place. As a resident of Pekin, IL, I feel that we have made great strides since the time of being a Sundown Town. And those who made you feel that it was an unsafe place to be, were incorrect. I personally have never felt threatened by living in Pekin and I see no reason why there should be that fear. Many of the residents in Pekin, including myself, take personal offense to the accusations like this. Just give it another chance.

  20. Pingback: Sundown Towns « The Mustard Seed

  21. Alan

    OK, with the same reasoning lets stop the welfare checks from going into the all black ghettos unless they actively pursue getting whites to move in.
    Your reasoning is so typically black.
    You ( whitey ) have something i want so i will whine till i get it or i will steal it.
    Heaven forbid i work for it to get something similar.

    • Ann

      “OK, with the same reasoning lets stop the welfare checks from going into the all black ghettos unless they actively pursue getting whites to move in.

      Maybe you should pull up a chair, put on a dunce cap, and prepare to be educated about welfare.

      There are many types of welfare: Social Security, AFDC, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. The majority of Americans who receive welfare checks are not Black. The majority of those who receive welfare checks are White people:

      -Whites receive the lion’s share of welfare benefits. What millions of Black Americans pay into the system ends up going to Whites who retire (Social Security, if you are not intelligent enough to realize it, is welfare). Some 61 percent of welfare recipients (the word recipients means those who receive, in case you don’t know that), are White, while 33 percent are Black, according to 2000 Census Bureau statistics:

      Social Security is the nation’s largest welfare program, although many Whites prefer to call it a retirement plan. The government writes retirement and disability benefit checks to 35.4 million recipients of whom 88.7 percent are White and 9.6 percent are Black. The reason behind this shocking disparity is perhaps the most lamentable of all: The life expectancy rate for Blacks is six times shorter than that of Whites, meaning Black workers spend years paying into a retirement system only to have White retirees reap the benefits for a longer time; Black Americans do not even get to receive so much from what they have worked hard to pay into the system of welfare; even there they are stomped on and gutted by this society/country/government. Black Americans outnumber Whites on welfare, but, are Blacks getting what they paid into the system? No. The federal government defines welfare as all entitlement programs funded through taxes. These programs, listed as “direct benefit payments for individuals” by the Office of Management and Budget, make up approximately $730 billion or 43 percent of the $1.47 trillion the government will spend this fiscal year. Welfare critics rarely search the Social Security rolls for “welfare cheats,” but train their sights on people getting Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), Medicaid and food stamps, the relief programs with the most Black clients. Yet government figures show that Whites not Blacks make up the bulk of clients on these public aid programs; a fact that dispels the notion that Blacks are scheming for a free lunch courtesy of the American taxpayer.

      Many people (such as yourself) snot and cry about the numbers of Black people who receive some types of welfare, with Blacks receiving 33% welfare types in relation to their 12% of the U.S.population. But racism is at the heart of the standard-of-living gap between Blacks and Whites. Still unlawful race-based hiring practices, keep many Blacks from getting jobs that pay enough to lift them out of poverty. Until more blue-collar (and white collar jobs), open up to Black workers, Blacks will continue to battle poverty and the freeloader misconception will continue to lodge as residue in the non-Black American mind. As long as Blacks continue to face substandard education, systematic racism, urban warfare and limited paths leading up and out of poverty, the rest of America will find it easy to hate on Black’s suffering in this country——until it hits home.

      With the dying and sputtering economy, with more Whites losing ground in the failing recession/depression economy, with more Whites losing jobs and finding themselves on the unemployment lines, this society is going to have to find another scapegoat to blame the failing economy on, as opposed to the constant need to blame innercity people for this nation’s savage policies of economic destruction.

      People (with intelligent, lucid brains) only need to look at the White families streaming into welfare offices in rural New Hampshire for proof that poverty has more to do with economics than race.

      The once thriving state has seen an 88 percent jump in welfare cases since 1989, yet the states Black population is a meager 0.6 percent.

      Now, how do you explain all those hard-working Whites ending up on welfare, since to you a welfare recipient can only be Black?

      All across America, there is proof that you can have the best job in the world: but, get cut from a company looking to keep its profits up at the expense of its employess, a company with its eye on the bottom line—-, then YOU will find yourself out of a job, living a paycheck away from homelessness, falling behind on the mortgage, falling behind on car payments, unable to feed/clothe your children, having to decide between medicine, hospitalization, OR food—–or worse, having to get on WELFARE—-no matter what race you hail from.

      But, don’t worry. . . .

      . . . .millions of Whites will soon be where so many Blacks are now.

      Millions of them are already there.

      That’s what those of us all get for blind obedience to a government that cares nothing for us all, as well as practicing race hatred instead of communual help towards each other.

      Oops! Almost forgot. Mustn’t forget the BIGGEST welfare cheats in America:

      Corporate Welfare Queens!

      -Corporations (such as the BIG 3, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, CitGo, etc.) who despite their millions of bonuses, and high salaries, still manage to pig-suck billions of dollars from a government that only slaps them on the hand for company mismanagement and pathetic business procedures, while that same country/government runs into the ground its citizens who are just barely getting by on susbsistence poverty wages.

      -Wal-Mart, a big beneficiary of welfare:

      Welfare payments to timber corporations:

      Even when they are losing millions, America still keeps shoveling subsidy monies out to inept companies.

      Corporate welfare TIF (tax increment financing) allows governments to give money, in the form of property tax exemptions, to whatever private corporations they choose. Now, how many citizens can say that they have received such breaks from their government?

      Welfare reform never succeeded in reducing poverty and unemployment, something welfare reform was never intended to do. You want to see less Americans on any type of welfare, call out your state and local representatives to institute better education curriculums in schools; better education, better jobs; better jobs, better skills; better skills, more opportunities in life, therefore, less dependency on any kind of welfare. For anyone.

      The poverty rate has more to do with the economy than the availability of assistance for poor people. No matter what race those poor people come in.

      “…..typical black.”

      Okay, just what is a typical Black? In answering, I would say a typical Black is a person who does the following:

      -works hard (usually twice as hard) to get a job;

      -has a strong work ethic;

      -is a good team worker on the job;

      -can be counted on to work with minimal supervision;

      -arrives to work on time;

      -does not break the law;

      -is a productive member of society

      Those are the typical qualities of being a citizen of this country, who happens to be Black.

      By that ludicrous statement you made….what is a typical White person?

      So, by your unsound illogic only White people have the right to move about from Point A to Point B in this country. Legalized Jane Crow segregation has been eradicated.

      Unfortunately only on paper; obviously not from people’s hearts and minds.

      “You ( whitey ) have something i want so i will whine till i get it or i will steal it.

      By that illogical statement, White people would be experts on stealing:

      -theft of Native Americans land;-theft of Africans from Africa;-theft of Black American’s labor and skills: cultivation of rice, indigo, weaving, metalwork of enslaved Africans;-theft of Black American’s culture: gospel, rhythm and blues; folktales, language/vernacular dialects, to name just a few:

      “YOU (Black people) have something I want because for centuries(and in the present) many of us (non-Blacks) by hook and crook, steal from you, have stolen from you, and continue to steal from you your dignity, your rights as U.S. citizens, your respect as fellow human beings.”

      “Heaven forbid i work for it to get something similar.”

      Heaven forbid that I am given respect as a citizen of this country; heaven forbid that my humanity is respected; heaven forbid that I am not maltreated as less than a White person just because of the color of my skin.

      Heaven forbid that I no longer am paid $0.67 cents for every $1.00 that a WhIte man makes.

      Heaven forbid that America finally grows a backbone and cease it mentally challenged disrespect of me as a non-welfare/non-criminal/non-lazy citizen.

      “Your reasoning is so typically black.”

      Your reasoning from your comments is so typically ignorant, uninformed, and backwards.

    • Melvin Patterson

      And don’t assume all Blacks want a “hand out”. For the most part blacks have honest hard days’ work ethic!

  22. DJ

    This is an awesome piece of work worthy of a Pulitzer.

  23. rt

    keep up the good work. I found your post very usefull. thanks

  24. ad

    Thanks for this nice post. This subject is dear to me. Thank you for your blog.

  25. fp

    Pretty insightfull post. Never realized the magnitude of such human babarity. I have spent a good deal of my time looking for someone to explain this topic clearly and you’re the only person that ever did that. Thanks a lot! Keep it up!

  26. Melvin Patterson

    This site has really open my eyes as to why the lack of the African-American presence in rural america. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as “sundown towns” or how omnipresent they were in this country!

    I thought blacks for the most part were gravitated towards the “urban environment” more out of preference, and figured they were perhaps alienated from rural communities because of the action of a few “rotten apples”. At first like most whites, I bought into their nonsense that if those kinds of towns did exist they were “more the exception than the rule”. Now, I’m finding out that they were lot more prevalent and violent than I originally thought, (surprising with some still covertly existing!) So, it’s understandable as to why blacks avoided these areas (not that the urban centers were better either!)

    African-Americans had to endure deplorable and awesome conditions between the period of 1890 to the 1960’s and shows just how cruel and racist in general attitude the Untied States was! Makes me wonder how African-Americans survived here at all!

    Thanks for exposing another ugly part of america’s past that the status quo in this country (out of embarassment) would like to keep secret under it’s heavy laden rug!

  27. keith manuel

    thanku for creating this site
    i never knew of this awful problem
    keep up your good work

  28. Theresa Butler

    Growing up in Ludlow/Bromley, KY, I often wondered why those stupid sounding sirens would go off every night at 6:00 pm. Being white and ignorant, they were just a nusance to me, little did I realize they meant life or death to folks with darker shades of skin than myself…how ignorantly disgusting we can be! Man, will we EVER learn?

  29. Jordan

    Itasca, IL needs to be added as a sundown town. I and my brother worked there for a while. My brother got pulled over in his car by the police constantly and asked what was he doing in Itasca? This would make him late for work on several occasions but my brother would never say anything to his boss about what was going on. One day some of his co-workers asked him if he could pick them up on the way to work and he did. The cops pulled him over again for no reason and his co-workers were shocked because they didn’t know he was dealing with this. When they got to work they told his/their boss. I also didn’t know this was happening to my brother because he never complained to me about it. One day I rode into work with my brother and it just so happened on that day my brother’s boss happened to be driving behind him on his way to work, and an Itasca cop started following my brother and pulled my brother over into the parking lot of our job. This cop was yelling at him like he was insane or something. We didn’t know why he yelling. My brother’s boss saw everything and quickly parked her car and walked over to the officer and let him know that she saw everything and that she had been driving behind my brother’s car and saw that he had done nothing wrong. She called the police station and filed a complaint against the police officer.

    My brother is one of the hardest working men I know. He gets awards and bonuses at his job for being such a great employee. He is compassionate and will give you the shirt off his back. He loves helping people and being a mentor to young people. He is college educated, wears business attire to work, and has a very good position at his job but he was constantly harassed in Itasca, IL.

    I wondered why my brother never told me this was happening to him on a regular basis. I think he wanted to ignore it and just trynot think about it happening.

    Thanks for posting this info about sundown towns. I never knew they were called this.

    • Jordan,

      I am a research assistant for Dr. James Loewen. He asked me to reach out to you to tell you that he has seen your comment and would love to have more specific information about the town. Do you have any approximate dates as to when your brother was harassed?

      If you could email me at, that would be great. Any additional information you may have about the town as to whether it is a sundown town or not would be appreciated.

      Thanks very much,

      Alexandra Swanson

  30. Jordan

    Oops, sorry for some of the typos. I shouldn’t be typing in the dark. 🙂

  31. Kelsi

    Thanks for offering up this article to readers everywhere. It’s good information with a lot of hutzpah. You pack a great punch with your views.

  32. ErinM

    I am enrolled in a Masters degree program in Thanatology. One of my classes this semester is African American Prosepctives in Thanatology and the term Sundown Town was completely new to me. I have decided to write my reaction paper about it as we watched a short portion of the documentary called Banished. Your information has been so helpful and it is helping me to craft my paper which is going to show that the cultural experiences of Black folks outside of and after slavery was abolished need to be explored as well in the social studies classroom.

  33. Peter

    Excellent post. Very helpful information on one of the most painful sections of America’s history.




  35. Petra

    Outstanding essay. I did not know about the Greenbook. Just goes to let you know what African Americans had to deal with and how they faced such great odds.

  36. Will

    magnificent post, very informative.

  37. Testament

    Superb post! Thanks!

  38. Jordan

    Florentino Camacho Jr., you are right. Everyone must go out and vote for President Obama in November. The racists of the old South and racists of the old North are trying to rise up again.

  39. I’m listening to Loewen’s Sundown Towns in my car on my commute this month. Dispiriting stuff…However, I don’t agree as to his solution. Housing discrimination should remain illegal and vigorously deterred. But so long as the segregation is self-segregation, then freedom of association should apply.

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  41. Mr. DollarHyde

    Sundown towns still exist with the wage disparity and socio-economic injustice that still reigns in America. As long as there is an us vs. them outlook towards African Americans, life for many black people will continue to be a sundown town where jobs, social uplift and education are concerned.


  43. Lindsay

    Even today, sundown towns have not really gone away. They may no longer have the signs up, but, that so many jobs, stores, and good schools are built in white suburbs is just another example of the continuance of gray towns in 2013 USA.

  44. Pingback: After dark in a (former) sundown town | the flying farmers

  45. Pingback: Sundown Towns | The Mind of Brosephus


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  49. Alan Glover

    Is there any estimate on the monetary value of property, businesses and wealth of African Americans, due to their expulsion from the sundown towns in America?


  51. Reblogged this on NY Employment, Business and Family News and commented:
    I’m still shaking my head in disbelief. All I can say is………WOW!

  52. chris

    I was born in Mccracken county Paducah, Ky in 1977. Paducah was as far as I been told not like that. but a few miles away is Marshall county… Benton, Ky it was very much so. there was in fact a sign coming into town that read Ni**er if your caught here when the sun comes up you will be swinging in a tree when the sun goes down “WELCOME TO MARSHALL COUNTY” then what ever the population was at that time. I saw what was left of that sign with my own two eyes as a kid when me and my parents moved there in 1982. we come back to Paducah in early 85′ it was not as bad obviously as the early 60’s back. but a certain vibe was still there an African american news reporter and his family moved there. they stayed not to long one night their house was burned out. when they went to clean it out they found a note reading….”SORRY NI**ER HELL IF WE HAD KNOWN YOUR WIFE AND KIDS WEREN’T HOME WE WOULD HAVE WAITED TILL THEY WERE. NOW MOVE YOUR MONKEY ASS BACK TO PADUCAH” I know because it was shown to my Dad by the news reporter himself we weren’t like that but he didn’t talk with us except in paducah …every body was tight lipped in Benton the president of the bank KNOWN RACIST the sheriff KNOWN RACIST. its changed there now their are a few black family’s living in Benton and especially Calvert city in the old days GRAVES COUNTY WAS A SUNDOWN TOWN not now but early 60’s back. and yes Vienna Illinois we ain’t to far from it living in Paducah but oh yes Vienna was A sundown Town also…..

  53. Voca

    Great post. Such hateful cruelty from this country towards black people.


  55. Travis

    Black lives did not matter then, as they still do not matter now. All-white communities are rampant across America due to their mindset of the lack of regard for Black life and Black lives dignity.

    Outstanding post.

  56. Jacob Hayes

    I grew up in Effingham, IL. If it was a “sundown town”, that must have been 100 years ago. Also, I lived there over 20 years and have never heard that Krispy Kreme was created there. There is not even a Krispy Kreme in Effingham.

    btw the link goes to some town in Kentucky.

    I didn’t check on any of these other towns listed, but based on the validity of the town that I know very well, I would question this entire post…

    MODERATOR: The information on the sundown town Effingham, Illinois has been revised. Also, it would behoove you to understand that one error does not condemn an entire post on such an horrific topic such as sundown towns.

  57. Pingback: Methods: How To Confirm Sundown Towns | Eslkevin's Blog

  58. Cindy

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this post. Your creative writing skills have encouraged me to get my own blog now. Actually the blogging word is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good example of it.

    Thank you.

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