These Sundown Towns Still Exist For Black Travelers

Racial segregation sign in the United States
Leslie Taylor-Grover
September 24, 2021

They used to be clearly marked along the roadways. “Whites Only After Dark.” “Cool Summers, Mild Winters, No Negroes.” “Nigger Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On You.” 

The signs are long gone – but the sentiment behind these so-called “sundown towns” is still the same.

Huntington, IN, is typical of many Midwestern towns that didn’t want to receive Black travelers or residents during the Great Migration. While the signs have been taken down, Black travelers are well aware they may be harassed by police, refused service, or even warned by the town’s residents if they stick around too long.

Vidor, TX, is a small town that still struggles with its reputation as a sundown town. Nevertheless, whispers among Black people in nearby towns definitely confirm this place as dangerous after dark.

Vienna, IL, is a place young Black people are warned about. Black travelers are told to keep their doors locked and to use only well-lit gas stations – regardless of white residents’ denials of racism. 

Sundown towns exist across the nation, in spite of the racial progress we’ve achieved. The discrimination in such places isn’t gone – it’s just taken on a different form. The fight for equality continues.

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