What are Sundown Towns?
Sundown Towns are towns that Black folks should not be in at sundown. Through, whatever means necessary, Black folks are persuaded by local ordinances, intimidation or violence not to live in these towns as be out of town by sundown. It’s an all-white municipality that wants to stay that way. So, Blacks are not welcomed.
What are the names of some Sundown Towns?
Millvale, Pa. – a suburb of Pittsburgh is known as a Sundown Town. According to Phillip Jenkin’s book, “Hoods and Shirts”, Millvale was the center of a Nazi movement in the 1930s. A local historian remembers that the principal in the local movement was one Edwin “Ed” Flaig. His “Hunter’s Lodge” in Millvale is discussed in a book on American Nazis titled “Under Cover: My Four Years in the Nazi Underworld of America” by John Carlson (1943). For many years, even up to 1996, blacks (and other minorities) were not welcome on the “Hunter’s Lodge” property.
Chippewa, OH – Chippewa Township / Doylestown – Historically, Blacks were brought in from Viriginia to Doylestown to work in the mines because of a mining strike. The white miners were hostile to the Black miners. Doylestown’s census after 1900 shows they disappeared after the strikeThere have also been some interesting leads in Doylestown with African American strike workers brought from VA and kept in a stockade. They disappeared from Doylestown after the 1900 census. Many moved to the next town over, while others returned home to VA.
Doylestown/Chippewa Township: Chippewa Township 1870 blacks 4 Chippewa Township 1880 blacks 122 Chippewa Township 1900 blacks 0
Manitowoc, Wisconsin – This town was known to have signs that stated, “NIGGER: Don’t let the sun go down on you in our town!” Today the town is 93% white.
Cut and Shoot, TX – A black attorney who lives in Texas reports having seen a sundown sign in Cut and Shoot. TX Resident. “I have seen a KKK recruiting booth on the side of the road at the entrance of Cut and Shoot coming from US 59 in the mid 1990.”
Passadena. Tx– Pasadena, TX had a sign that warned blacks, but used a much more derogatory term, to be out when the sun went down. Ironically, if this is true, Pasadena’s population today is probably 50%, or more, minority.”
A Washington Post reported interviewed a black man who had moved to Pasadena a “neighbor came over and asked, ‘When are you moving out?’ The man, bemused, replied, ‘We just moved in.’ The neighbor replied, ‘I didn’t ask when you moved in, I asked when are you moving out?'” At least one dead cat was thrown on the families lawn. They lasted six months.
Old Homossa, FL– “According to the legend I was taught by inhabitants of Homosassa, just a few short years before I moved there in 1990 there was a sign that had been repeatedly posted and torn down on the only road that leads to Old Homosassa. The sign reportedly stated, ‘Nigger, don’t let the sun set on your ass in Old Homosassa!’ “Also reported by people who had moved there a short time before I arrived, a civil war had raged between residents of Old Homosassa and the local newspaper. Apparently, a young black man had been hired to mow the lawn of one of the town banks just outside of Old Homosassa and in ‘Homosassa Proper.’ Some rednecks in a pick up truck drove by the bank and fired a few shots off at the terrified worker, all the while shouting racial slurs at him. The incident was reported in the local rag, which prompted commentary from readers. As most normal people would be, they were outraged that such an incident would take place in their fair county, and felt that the offenders should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. [Other Old Homosassa residents] rose to defend their citizens’ actions… they flooded the newspaper’s central office with arguments in defense and even support of the incident.” -former Old Homosassa school teacher
Levittown, NY – William Levitt, a real estate developer created the suburban housing development known as Levittown, NY. From Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumers’ Republic (NY: Knopf, 2003): “In 1953, when Levittown, LI’s population reached 70,000, it was the largest community in America with no black population.” (p. 217) Only 57 blacks by 1960. By 1980, 45 blacks. From Martha Biondi, To Stand and Fight (Cambridge: Harvard U P, 2003): Levittown (on LI) contained a clause in the lease for rental properties: “The tenant agrees not to permit the premises to be used or occupied by any person other than members of the Caucasian race.” (p. 230) The Committee to End Discrimination in Levittown, including some residents, polled and claimed 61% of residents favored admitting blacks. “William Levitt refused to renew the leases of two families, one who had violated the racial policy by hosting an interracial play group, and the other for simply being sympathetic neighbors.”