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Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism Paperback – October 3, 2006
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Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Growing up a white Westerner in mostly white towns, I always had the question about race relations: "Why the hell would such a high percentage of black people choose to live in nasty big cities? Why don't they move here? I won't hurt 'em. Their kids would get better educations and they'd do fine." It sounds so easy. Did any of you ever wonder that?
As Prof. Loewen documents with the greatest of care, after the Civil War that's what happened. And then, town by town, said black people were driven out and told never to return. The census figures combined with eyewitness accounts will admit of no other conclusion. Black people ended up concentrated in the only areas that were relatively safe to be black in. The American landscape was an immense minefield for them after 1890: can't stop here for gas, can't even pass through here, can't spend the night here. At some point you just go to Detroit, or wherever, and try and make do.
I live in Kennewick, Washington, which along with Richland (its sister city) was a sundown town until at least the mid-1960s. Every approach I make to delve into the topic is met with cold silence and deep disapproval. People don't return my phone calls, and I see fear in people's eyes. It is obvious that what I am seeing is a shame reaction, the hope that the last witnesses will die off before anyone records the truth.Read more ›
Loewen starts the book by recapping how our country changed after the Civil War. I had heard of the migration north, but I didn't know that many of the newly-freed slaves actually had their own farms in the midwest. Racism slowly drove them off these farms and into groups in larger cities.
Loewen also explains how whites then responded by moving to suburbs and instituting measures to keep their new communities white. Some 80% of the Chicago suburbs had some type of codes that restricted certain races from settling there.
Loewen also made it clear that the sundown town practice was mainly a northern one. He did a lot of investigation of Illinois towns and found quite a few towns that had taken measures to prevent African Americans from settling or buying property within the town. He did also include examples of the practice existing on the East Coast to restrict Jewish people from WASP areas and on the West Coast to restrict Chinese or Asian immigrants from living outside their neighborhoods.
This book tells a fascinating story of our country and how segregation took hold. Read it!
The author relies on local historical sources, archives, and oral histories. The oral histories seem to be the most inconsistent, which is recognized, but not fully appreciated. The variation in forces that led to the creation of sundown towns is appreciated but under analyzed. The author tends to jump from his main topic to broader considerations of segregation and this waters down some of the work. There are degrees to which towns really fit the "sundown" definition. Parma, Ohio had a small numbers of Black residents in the 1960s and would not fit in the same class as Cicero or Berwyn.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If I could give a book SIX STARS, it would be this one. Until all Americans know the history of urban segregation that exploded across every State in the United States (except... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Land Wayland
Excellent book to read, very interesting facts . A must to read I would recommend this book to anyone.Published 2 months ago by ALISA STROMAN
This is a much needed book. So glad someone had the nerve and gumption to write a book detailing America's deranged past time. Read morePublished 3 months ago by MidnightRain
just bought it yesterday great read and new info on racismPublished 3 months ago by Christian Anarfi