Sundown: for many people it’s a time of parties and fun; for others, it’s a time of terror and an omen their lives may be in danger. For thousands of Jews, Chinese, Japanese, Irish, and other minorities in America, sundown meant running for one’s life from communities in which they were not welcome.
People of color for the 150 years since the start of the bloodiest US battle ever motivated by racism, the American Civil War, have been routinely excluded from certain communities. This exclusion can be subtle or blatant. Hawthorne, California, in the first half of the 20th Century probably said it best on its city limit sign: “Nigger, Don’t Let the Sun Set on You in Hawthorne”. Such towns, clearly posting their open mistrust and hatred of blacks, were called “Sundown Towns”. It was the kind of place where any black person, caught in town after sundown, might be in danger of lynching.