Black History Fun Fact Friday – Sundown Towns

“Is it true that ‘Anna’ stands for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’?” I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee. “Yes,” the clerk replied. “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy. And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.” “I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “That’s sad.”—conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October 2001. James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (Touchstone, 2006),3

Anna, Illinois was named after the daughter of the founder of the town, but got its more derogatory name after the 1909 lynching of a black man in Cairo IL and the mob of angry white citizens who drove out Anna’s 40 or so black families following the lynching. It is at this point that Anna, IL became a sundown town.

A sundown town is a town with an exclusive population of non-whites on purpose. They are towns with overwhelming populations of non-whites and are so deliberately.

Historically, the name Sundown-town comes from Blacks not being allowed in certain towns beyond sunset and the signs that some towns posted within their city limits warning Blacks not to let the sun go down on them in that town (see pics).

Side Note: I wonder if that’s where the parental command to be in the house when the street lights came on, comes from? I’d have to explore that one.

Although signs were posted, forced exclusion was also implemented:

“There were also race riots in which white mobs attacked black neighborhoods, burning, looting, and killing. Across America, at least 50 towns, and probably many more than that, drove out their African American populations violently. At least 16 did so in Illinois alone. In the West, another 50 or more towns drove out their Chinese American populations. Many other sundown towns and suburbs used violence to keep out blacks or, sometimes, other minorities.” – America’s Black Holocaust Museum, James W. Loewen, PhD; Fran Kaplan, EdD; and Robert Smith, PhD

The Beginning

Sundown towns began after Slavery and the Civil War when blacks left the plantations and poured into every city and corner of the country. This was followed by the system we know as Jim Crow, in which black codes and laws were made for the intention of keeping blacks as enslaved as possible despite their free status.

Of course, we are familiar by now with the eyes that had to be kept to the ground, the stepping to the side when whites walked by, the separate restrooms and water fountains, movie theaters and many others. But in addition to all this were sundown towns, all-white neighborhoods where blacks were not allowed to live. Many of these towns existed in the North as the Great Migration brought floods of blacks into Northern Cities.

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These communities feared the blacks pouring into their neighborhoods and established Sundown towns by evicting black residents and not allowing them in.

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This statue of Orville Hubbard which sits outside of the City Hall in Dearborn Michigan, was the cause of much controversy when people started to learn more about his past.

Hubbard was the mayor of the then all-white suburban town outside of Detroit from 1942 to 1978 and in a 1969 speech acquired by the New York Times said that “If whites didn’t want to live with N–they sure didn’t have to.” He went on to say that this was a free country and that this was America.

“City police cars bore the slogan ‘Keep Dearborn Clean,’ which was a catch phrase meaning ‘Keep Dearborn White,’ ” according to David Good, a lifelong resident of the city who is the author of ‘‘Orvie: The Dictator of Dearborn,” a biography of Mayor Hubbard.

“Out here in Dearborn where some real Ku Klux Klans live. I know Dearborn, you know I’m from Detroit, used to live out there in Easten. And you had to go through Dearborn to get to Easten. Just like riding through Mississippi once you got to Dearborn.” -Malcolm X

Over time the name “Sundown-town” faded but Sundown Suburbs still exist. A sundown suburb is a discrete way in which Sundown-towns exist today. It is when large white populations migrate to the suburban part of the city with the express purpose of separating themselves from the minority population.

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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – To Thee I’m Wed by Deborah Dykeman

Title: To Thee I’m Wed

Author: Deborah Dykeman

Print Length: 239 pages

Publication Date: December 29, 2015

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Language: English

ASIN: B019YT5NC2

*I received this book as a gift from the author*

When Jason and Kathy Miller marries in June of 1985, they are in total bliss. As any young couple is they are happy and giddy and excited to start their lives together. They are so happy in fact, that even at the beginning I knew things would not be all peaches and cream.

Twenty years and three children later and the fire dies. Once happy-go-lucky Kathy is starting to feel unfulfilled. The life of a Housewife is now just her duty where it had once been so much more. It had once been fun. Now that the children are older, Kathy seeks work to rekindle the excitement in her life but her husband is not pleased.

Jason can’t understand why his wife is so discontent and is unsure of Kathy’s love for him. After revealing that she’d like to start work, Jason is not happy but leaves it to Kathy to make the decision. She decides to work and though it makes her feel like she has a purpose, things do not get better.

When Kathy meets the owner of the Giordano’s restaurant where she works, everything she felt she was missing in Jason is handed to her on a gorgeous silver platter. Kathy is feeling Antonio Giordano and as hard as she tries to fight it, she begins to change and so does her marriage.

Jason notices the change in his wife and their relationship gets worse as they are met with trials that can threaten all the years they’ve built.

I like how Deborah let us into the not-so-good parts of marriage and the realness of Jason and Kathy’s feelings concerning their responsibility in the relationship. The author developed the persona of the characters well so that it is easy to see them as real people. I enjoyed being able to know what each person was thinking, how they were wrong about the other and ways in which they were right.

I think not having open discussions about marital issues causes a lot of people to feel alone like Kathy. Alone in the sense that others are not having the same kinds of problems but as those who are married know, we all have them!

The truth is that marriage is not all rainbows and sunflowers. If couples aren’t careful they can find themselves getting too comfortable and start to slack off in those areas that attracted them to each other in the first place. This is because not a lot of people realize how much work goes into a marriage. Once someone becomes a part of your life in such an intimate way, the relationship evolves and must be nurtured to grow. If a relationship is not growing it is dying. There is no middle ground.

Kathy is representative of many women who feel differently after children, especially if they are stay-at-home moms and have focused so many years on raising children and taking care of husbands that they forget how important their own self-care is. I think this is why it’s so important for women, wives, and mothers, in particular, to give themselves the same kind of love and attention that they give out. If you aren’t right mentally, spiritually, or physically you cannot be of help to your family or anyone else around you. Don’t forget to take care of you!

Jason is representative of many men who get comfortable as well in the relationship. Too caught up with work that they don’t realize how they are neglecting their wives in little ways and because men and women think differently, chances are he is not seeing it that way and thinks all is well. This is also why communication is so important. A lot of misunderstanding could have been resolved if Jason and Kathy told each other how they were truly feeling.

Ratings:

Plot Movement / Strength: 4/5

Entertainment Factor: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5 / 5

To Thee I’m Wed is Available Now on Amazon

(Isn’t this cover beautiful? I love all Deborah’s covers!)

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