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Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism

Loewen, James W.

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9780743294485: Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism

Bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen, exposes the secret communities and hotbeds of racial injustice that sprung up throughout the twentieth century unnoticed, forcing us to reexamine race relations in the United States.

In this groundbreaking work, bestselling sociologist James W. Loewen, author of the national bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me, brings to light decades of hidden racial exclusion in America. In a provocative, sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, Loewen uncovers the thousands of “sundown towns”—almost exclusively white towns where it was an unspoken rule that blacks could not live there—that cropped up throughout the twentieth century, most of them located outside of the South. These towns used everything from legal formalities to violence to create homogenous Caucasian communities—and their existence has gone unexamined until now. For the first time, Loewen takes a long, hard look at the history, sociology, and continued existence of these towns, contributing an essential new chapter to the study of American race relations.

Sundown Towns combines personal narrative, history, and analysis to create a readable picture of this previously unknown American institution all written with Loewen’s trademark honesty and thoroughness.

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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.

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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