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Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racismby James W Loewen
Synopses & Reviews
The explosive story of racial exclusion in the north, from the American Book Award-winning author of Lies My Teacher Told Me
As American as apple pie:
- Most suburbs in the United States were originally sundown towns.
- As part of the deepening racism that swept through the United States after 1890, town after town outside the traditional South became intentionally all-white, evicting their black populations with tactics that ranged from intimidation to outright violence.
- From Myakka City, Florida, to Kennewick, Washington, the nation is dotted with thousands of all-white towns that are (or were until recently) all-white on purpose. Sundown towns can be found in almost every state.
Don't let the sun go down on you in this town. We equate these words with the Jim Crow South but, in a sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, award-winning and bestselling author James W. Loewen demonstrates that strict racial exclusion was the norm in American towns and villages from sea to shining sea for much of the twentieth century.
Weaving history, personal narrative, and hard-nosed analysis, Loewen shows that the sundown town was--and is--an American institution with a powerful and disturbing history of its own, told here for the first time. In Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, sundown towns were created in waves of violence in the early decades of the twentieth century, and then maintained well into the contemporary era.
Sundown Towns redraws the map of race relations, extending the lines of racial oppression through the backyard of millions of Americans--and lobbing an intellectual hand grenade into the debatesover race and racism today.
No blacks allowed, especially after dark. This was the unwritten rule in a "sundown" town. In his trademark revelatory style, bestselling author James W. Loewen explores one of America's best-kept secrets as he unearths the making of sundown towns and discloses the fact that many white neighborhoods and suburbs are the result of years of racism and segregation. Anna, Illinois; Darien, Connecticut; and Cedar Key, Florida, are just a few examples of the thousands of all-white towns established between 1890 and 1968, many of which still exist today. White residents of these towns used any means possible — including the law, harassment, race riots, and even murder — to keep African Americans and other minority groups out.
Powerful and unprecedented, Sundown Towns tells the story of how these towns came into existence, what maintains them, and what to do about them. It also deepens our understanding of the role racism has played and continues to play in our society.
"Don't let the sun go down on you in this town" are words equated with the Jim Crow South, but in a sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, award-winning and bestselling historian Loewen demonstrates that strict racial exclusion was the whole country's norm for much of the 20th century.
About the Author
James W. Loewen is the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. He is a regular contributor to the History Channel's History magazine and is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont. He resides in Washington, D.C.
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History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » General