Sundown Towns

 

 

 

injustice-files-sundown-towns

 

Last night’s edition of filmmaker Keith Beauchamp’s The Injustice Files: Sundown Towns on Investigation Discovery refocused attention on what is now known as “sundown towns,” places where African-Americans were not welcomed “after the sun went down” and, in some instances, purposely driven out altogether.

I had never heard of the term Sundown Towns until I recently watched a documentary on the subject on Investigation ID.  Unfortunately, this kind of ignorance is alive and well today, according to this documentary. In certain parts of the country this way of thinking seems to be thriving but has been kept hush,hush by the media.  Evidently, black people were warned by signage that they could be killed if caught after dark in these “Sundown Towns”.

A sociologist by the name of James W. Loewen, strongly believes that these “sundown town” situations occur predominately in Northern states as opposed to Southern states as he explains in his 2005 book called “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism. Being a native of Illinois, Mr. Loewen focused heavily on this area and believed that this subject had a huge presence there.

The documentary I saw aired on March 21, 2014. One of the places noted in the segment was Martinsville,Indiana where a black woman by the name of Carol Jenkins was murdered at the age of 21 simply because she was caught in town selling encyclopedias ‘after dark’. Miss Jenkins had come to the home of a couple seeking help on the night of her murder. According to this couple, she was very afraid because she was being followed by a car with two men in it. The couple tried to get Miss Jenkins to stay at their home that night and pleaded with her not to go back out but she insisted on leaving and didn’t want to bother them further. Besides her murderer(s), this couple was the last to see her alive. The wife of the couple said she felt Miss Jenkins knew she was going to die that night. Tragically, that’s just what happened on September 16, 1968.

Is this as much a surprise to some of you as it was for me? Please share your thoughts on this subject.

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. C.G.Ayling (@CGAyling)
    Apr 18, 2014 @ 14:11:08

    When I moved the the USA, from Africa, I lived in Athens. I personally saw one of those signs, in one of those “sundown” towns. The town was Chauncey, OH. And the sign read, {Forgive the language} “Nigger, don’t the the sun go down on your ass in this town.” That was in 1992, if memory serves. I think the sign was removed in about 1995, but I don’t know for sure when. Truly appalling.
    Though I am an African soul, I am of European descent. I left South Africa because I could not stomach raising my children in a society filled with racial hatred. {I was born and raised in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, before economic necessity resulted in my relocating to South Africa.} Sadly that sign brought home how bigotry is alive and festering, everywhere.

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