Sundown Nation/ Sundown Towns are Recent
In 1884, it was rare for a town the size of Waverly Ohio (Population 1279) to be all-white. Beginning around 1890 and lasting until at least 1968, towns throughout Ohio and most other states began to emulate the racial policy of places like Wyandotte and Waverly. Most independent sundown towns expelled their black residents, or agreed not to admit any, between 1890 and 1940. Sundown suburbs later, between 1900 and 1968. By the middle of the 20th century, it was no longer rare for towns the size of Waverly to be all-white.
Most towns did not go sundown during slavery, before the Civil War, or during Reconstruction. On the contrary blacks moved everywhere in America between 1865 and 1890. African-Americans reached every county of Montana. That all changed between 1890 and 1930. By 1930, although its white population had increased by 75%, the Upper Peninsula was home to only 331 African-Americans, and 180 of them were inmates of the Marquette State Prison. Eleven Montana counties had no blacks at all. Across the country whites mounted little race riots against African-Americans, expelling entire black communities or intimidating and keeping out would-be newcomers. Violence played a huge role in the expulsion of blacks from sundown communities.
Vienna, a town in southern Illinois had 1,085 residents in 1950, including a black community of long standing dating back to the Civil War. In the 1950 census there were 34 African-Americans and additional black families lived just outside Vienna’s city limits. Then in 1954, 2 black men beat up a white grandmother and allegedly tried to rape her granddaughter. The grandmother died and every white man in town was deputized to find the culprits. The two men were found, in the aftermath, whites sacked the entire black community. They burned down houses and black people literally ran for their lives. As of the 2000 census,Vienna’s population of 1,234 only included 1 African-American.
In 1951, a Chicago bus driver and veteran, Harvey Clark tried to move into an apartment in suburban Cicero. First the police stopped him by force, then with intervention and protection from the NAACP, as he tried to move in whites stood across the street and shouted racial epithets. The next night the mob attacked the building, looted the Clark’s apartment as well as other adjoining flats. The mob threw the Clarks’ furniture and belongings out of the window and were burned. Local police just stood by and watched. The following night a mob of 3,500 gathered and rioted.
To this day, African-Americans who know about sundown towns concoct various rules to predict and avoid them. In Florida, any town of city with “Palm”in its name was thought to be especially likely to keep out African-Americans . In Indiana, it was any jurisdiction with a color in its name, such as Brownsburg, Brownstown, Brown County, Greenwood, Greenfield, and Vermillion County were are all sundown towns. Also towns with “white” in the name were typically sundown towns.
***All this information can be found in the book, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism***