The California towns where Blacks feared sundown –

31August 2020

In the Aug. 16 best of the HBO program “Lovecraft Nation,” produced by Misha Green and based on the book of the exact same name by Matt Ruff, the primary characters drive past an indication that reads” [N-word] s, do not let the sun set on you here. Understand?”

Towns that prohibited African Americans in the mid-20th century would, either officially or informally, installed intimidating signs like that at the town limits to remind Blacks passing through that they were not welcome.

These locations, understood frequently as “sundown towns,” existed throughout the country. Many of them were here in California, too.

The memory of sundown towns re-entered our collective cultural conscience recently as occurrences of police cruelty have pressed people to speak up against racism. The book “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Bigotry,” composed by sociologist James W. Loewen, was originally released in 2005. In the preface of the re-printed 2018 edition, Loewen kept in mind that while sundown towns are on the decline, some previous sundown towns have moved from overt to systemic racism through policies such as “Driving While Black policing.” He points out the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., as an example.

There is widespread misunderstanding that sundown towns were primarily concentrated in the Deep South and Midwest, as portrayed in Lovecraft Nation’s very first episode of the series, which was set along the highway route from Chicago to Massachusetts.

But comparable numbers of sundown towns existed in the West also, consisting of in California up until the mid-20th century. The national sundown town database on Loewen’s site lists 112 possible sundown towns in California. These towns are categorized on the site as either possible, likely, or certainly, as it is challenging to classify “sundown towns” due to the fact that of differing degrees of explicitness in their methods to frustrating African American and other non-White visitors.

California cities classified as “certainly” sundown towns on Loewen’s site consist of Brea, Chico, Culver City, El Segundo, Fresno, Glendale, Hawthorne, La Jolla, Palmdale, San Marino and Taft. Cities that are now bulk Black and Brown, consisting of Compton and Inglewood in Southern California, previously barred Black residents. The list also includes some entire counties as certainly sundown in the past.

This short article is released in collaboration with Black & & Publication. To check out the rest of the story, please go to the Black & & Publication site.


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