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Sundown towns, known as sunset towns or gray towns, were all-"white municipalities or neighborhoods that practiced a form of segregation by enforcing restrictions excluding people of non-white "races via some combination of discriminatory local laws, intimidation, and violence. The term came from signs posted that ""colored people" had to leave town by sundown.
During the "Reconstruction Era, many thousands of towns became sundown towns. In some cases, the exclusion was official town policy or was promulgated by the community's real estate agents via "exclusionary covenants governing who could buy or rent property. In others, the policy was enforced through intimidation. This intimidation could occur in a number of ways, including harassment by law enforcement officers.
In 1844 "Oregon "banned African-Americans from the territory altogether. Those that failed to leave were subject to receiving lashings, under a law known as the "Peter Burnett Lash Law" named for California's first governor, "Peter Hardeman Burnett. The law was eventually repealed, with no persons ever lashed under the law.
Since the "Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, and especially since the "Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited "racial discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing, the number of sundown towns has decreased. However, as sociologist "James W. Loewen writes in his book on the subject, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (2005), it is impossible to precisely count the number of sundown towns at any given time, because most towns have not kept records of the ordinances or signs that marked the town's sundown status. He further notes that hundreds of cities across America have been sundown towns at some point in their history.
Additionally, Loewen notes that sundown status meant more than just that "African-Americans were unable to live in these towns. Essentially any African-Americans (or sometimes other ethnic groups) who entered or were found in sundown towns after sunset were subject to harassment, threats, and violent acts—up to and including "lynching.
The "U.S. Supreme Court case "Brown v. Board of Education ruled segregation of schools unconstitutional in 1954. Sociologist "James Loewen argues that the case caused some municipalities in the South to become sundown towns. "Missouri, "Tennessee, and "Kentucky saw drastic drops in African American populations living in the states following the decision.
Towns that saw a sharp drop in the African American population between two censuses can be classified as sundown towns if the African American absence was intentional. Credible sources including tax and census records, newspaper articles, county histories, and WPA files are required to confirm a town as a sundown town.
Extensive research beyond examining "U.S. Census data is required in order to document a sundown town. Researchers must determine that the absence of African Americans in a town is due to a systematic policy and not change in demographics.
African-Americans were not the only people of color driven out of some towns where they lived. One example, according to Loewen, is that in 1870, Chinese people made up one-third of "Idaho's population. Following a wave of violence and an 1886 anti-Chinese convention in "Boise, almost none remained by 1910.:51 In another example, the town of "Gardnerville, Nevada is said to have blown a whistle at 6 p.m. daily alerting "Native Americans to leave by sundown.:23 Three additional examples of the numerous road signs documented during the first half of the 20th century include:
"Jews were also excluded from living in some sundown towns, such as "Darien, Connecticut and "Lake Forest, Illinois (which kept anti-Jewish and anti-"African American housing covenants until 1990).
In Maria Marulanda's 2010 article in the "Fordham Law Review titled "Preemption, Patchwork Immigration Laws, and the Potential for Brown Sundown Towns", Marulanda outlines the possibility for non-blacks to be excluded from towns in the United States. Marulanda argued that immigration laws and ordinances in certain municipalities could create similar situations to those experienced by African Americans in sundown towns. Hispanic Americans are likely the target in these cases of racial exclusion.
Described by former "NAACP President "Julian Bond as "One of the survival tools of segregated life", "The Negro Motorist Green Book (at times titled The Negro Traveler's Green Book or The Negro Motorist Green-Book, and commonly referred to simply as the "Green Book") was an annual, segregation-era guidebook for African-American motorists, published by New York travel agent and former "Hackensack, New Jersey letter carrier "Victor H. Green. It was published in the United States from 1936 to 1966, during the "Jim Crow era, when discrimination against non-whites was widespread. Road trips for African-Americans were fraught with inconveniences and dangers because of racial segregation, racial profiling by police, the phenomenon of travelers just "disappearing", and the existence of numerous sundown towns. According to author Kate Kelly, "there were at least 10,000 'sundown towns' in the United States as late as the 1960s; in a 'sundown town' nonwhites had to leave the city limits by dusk, or they could be picked up by the police or worse. These towns were not limited to the South—they ranged from "Levittown, New York, to "Glendale, California, and included the majority of municipalities in Illinois."
Many suburban areas in the United States were incorporated following the establishment of "Jim Crow laws. The majority of suburbs were made up of all-white residents from the time they were first created. Harassment and inducements helped to keep African Americans out of new suburban areas. Schooling also played a large role in keeping the suburbs white. The suburbs often did not provide schools for blacks, causing black families to send their children to school in large municipalities such as "Atlanta, Georgia. African Americans were forced to pay a fee to the central municipality in order for their children to attend school there. Despite the fee, they were not provided transportation to school in the city. The education barrier to African Americans in the suburbs caused many to migrate to cities across the United States. In addition to the educational barriers, home developers in the 1950s built all-white subdivisions, pushing more African Americans out of the suburbs.
The African Americans that lived in suburban areas were janitors, cooks, and gardeners for white families.["citation needed] The few African Americans that lived in the suburbs occupied their own working-class sections of the neighborhoods.["citation needed] Towns with interracial populations such as "Chamblee, Georgia, and "Pearl, Mississippi forced their African Americans to leave town as they developed into suburbs.
In her memoir "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, poet "Maya Angelou describes sundown towns existing in parts of the South. She describes Mississippi as inhospitable to African Americans after dark: "Don't let the sun set on you here nigger, Mississippi."
The 1959 film by "Sidney Lumet, "The Fugitive Kind, starring "Marlon Brando and "Anna Magnani, mentions sundown towns. A small town sheriff in the south tells Brando's character about a sign in a town that says, "Nigger, don't let the sun go down on you in this county"
Playwright John Henry Redwood III wrote the play No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs after he saw the words written on a sign from a sundown town in "Mississippi. The play is set in a sundown town in the American South.
Some cinematic treatments of the subject include: