These are small steps, to be sure, but they are a start. Once we realize that, once we start thinking historically about where we are, we can see that nothing just happens. This, a historical knowledge of our local communities, is what can drive change. But yes, every one of these towns prohibited black residents, and so, that evening, the idea that intentional sundown towns were everywhere in America, or at least everywhere in the Midwest, hit me right between the eyes. Many residents of sundown towns ache to get beyond their tradition of exclusion. A story published on shortly after the election proclaimed that history classes are our best hope for teaching people to question fake news and beat back the narrative of “Make America Great Again” and the white nationalism inherent in it. Delegates at the 2007 UUA General Assembly urged UU congregations to research and uncover their complicity with “all types of racial, ethnic, and cultural oppression, past and present, toward the goal of accountability through acknowledgement, apology, repair, and reconciliation.” One way to begin is for UUs to gather information confirming that a given town kept blacks out (if it did).

That includes me. The net effect of all of these different forms of discrimination was that, according to the 1930 census, the black population in Appleton had plummeted to zero. Low numbers of African Americans, decade after decade, are also suspicious, especially if blacks are hardly absent from nearby towns and counties or if the town’s total population was increasing. Initially, I imagined I would find maybe ten of these communities in Illinois, where I planned more research than in any other single state, and perhaps fifty across the country.

Many communities remain all-white today; whether blacks can reside safely and comfortably within them remains unclear. Sundown towns are communities that for decades—formally or informally—kept out African Americans or other groups. Also interview senior citizens and longtime realtors. Sundown suburbs formed a little later, mostly from 1900 to 1968. The past is never dead. I resolved to write a book about the Sundown Town phenomenon. After World War II, suburb after suburb required all its residential subdivisions to have restrictive covenants stating, in the words of a California example, “No negro, japanese or chinese or any person of african or mongolian descent shall own or occupy any part of said premises.”. How most days when they’ve been walking down College Avenue, the main thoroughfare in the city, they’ll have a racial slur hurled at them. Residents do not want to be known as “excluding,” especially on racial or religious grounds, because that would say bad things about them—that they are racist, for one. “Sundown suburbs” could be even larger, such as Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles; Levittown, on Long Island; and Warren, a Detroit suburb. It is time to take steps toward truth and reconciliation.

So long as their communities remain overwhelmingly nonblack, however, it is unclear whether African American families can prudently live in them. © 1996-2020 Unitarian Universalist Association. So do bound volumes of the census at your local public or university library. It was by no means an idyllic time or one free of racism, but it also wasn’t unusual to see black-owned businesses and a few African-Americans were even elected to public office. Next, go to the library and skim local history books such as centennial histories and county histories. At the end of my address, which was on ideas I explored in my best-selling book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, I mentioned my ongoing research on American towns that are intentionally all white—sometimes known as “sundown towns.” I invited those who knew something about the subject to come forward and talk with me. This census website provides the racial proportions of every town in the country with more than 2,500 inhabitants for the years 1860-1980. Towns that in the past kept out Mexicans, Asian Americans, Jews, or Native Americans no longer exclude them today. Now, it’s about even with what was seen in the years after the Civil War. All information about Appleton’s black population is drawn from A Stone of Hope: Black Experiences in the Fox Cities, an exhibit put together by The History Museum, owned and operated by the Outagamie County Historical Society. As a result, since 1968 no town (or neighborhood) states openly that it is all white on purpose. Check accurate sunrise and sunset times for any day and any location in the world. They’ve worked with a local Christian youth camping organization to provide day camp and summer camp opportunities for local kids.

Everything looked the same, including the people. It wouldn’t be until the 2000s that African-American politicians would again hold local office. Today, the continued existence of all-white towns like Anna, Illinois—informally nicknamed “Ain’t No Niggers Allowed”—or Kenilworth, Chicago’s richest suburb—set up to be free of blacks and Jews from its founding—should offend our sense of decency as it impugns our democracy. To my astonishment, I have found 500 sundown towns in Illinois alone—and now estimate that, by 1970, their peak, 10,000 existed in the United States. Between 1890 and 1954, thousands of independent communities across the United States drove out their black populations or took steps to forbid African Americans from living in them. The federal government passed Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act, commonly referred to as the “Fair Housing Act”; in addition, in Jones v. Mayer, the Supreme Court held that an 1866 civil rights law bars discrimination in the rental and sale of property. Another resident also confirms that Appleton is a sundown town.

Begin gently, maybe by asking what the town’s major employers used to be.

(This is the raw data of the census, available on the web and at large libraries and genealogical collections on microfilm.) The low number of African-Americans in the city also isn’t incidental. Thus, if a person says, “Blacks were not allowed .

Second, it must apologize for it. Third, it should state that it no longer discriminates, and then back that statement with changed actions: a civil rights ombudsman or human relations board to hear complaints, for example. Sunrise and sunset times, civil twilight start and end times as well as solar noon, and day length for every day of November in Appleton. Some progress has taken place across the country. You may also like: Jacqueline Jones expounds on the Myth of Race in America. The entire time I lived there, I had never bothered to ask why there were so few African-Americans in Appleton. Pages in category "Sundown towns in Wisconsin" ... Appleton, Wisconsin; L. La Crosse, Wisconsin; S. Sheboygan, Wisconsin This page was last edited on 1 September 2020, at 15:31 (UTC). Sharp drops in the black population are of course suspicious.

How to find out if your community intentionally excluded African Americans. In 1968, all this began to change.

Emily Whalen reviews a book that discusses how American cities are tied to American politics.

Black athletes and performers would often avoid the city outright. That translates to about 1,200 people. UU World Magazine The topic for this plunge was “being black in the Fox Cities” (the loose conglomeration of towns that sprung up around the Fox River, and of which Appleton is the largest). This, my father quickly realized, was a lie.