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Ferguson, Mo.: Phasing Out Black Communities?

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA)- Jim Loewen, author of the book "Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism" weighed in on the situation in Ferguson, Mo.

Loewen talked to Chris Moore and explained what "sundown towns" are and their significance.

Loewen explains that Sundown Towns are towns that are all white on purpose. Whether the towns have kept black people out or slowly eased them out.

These towns are unfortunately located all over the country. Loewen says many are in northern cities, where one might not expect that to happen. Loewen said that there are 506 in Illinois alone.

Loewen says the he believes that Ferguson tried to become a Sundown, because Ferguson always had a small black community dating back to the Civil War. By 1940 Ferguson's black population was 38 percent -- all in one neighborhood, but by 1960 it doubled due to migration from the south in metropolitan areas, then cut dramatically by 60 percent.

"That doesn't happen without pressure. Ferguson shares a border with a little, black town, Kinloch. And along this border between 1940 and 1960, Ferguson puts up a chain on the main drag, that connects the two towns. So you literally can not drive from Kinloch into Ferguson. And this signals to black folks that we don't want you," Loewen said.

Chris asked what former Sundown Towns with a majority of white police can do to improve race relations. Loewen was enthusiastic in his response saying, 'There are three steps to getting over it. Admit it, apologize, and say that is doesn't happen anymore and be able to mean it".

Loewen is also asking that anyone let him know of any Sundown Towns that they are aware of in Pennsylvania, so that he might put them up on his website.

He can be reached at

Jim Loewen

Listen to Chris every Sunday 4pm-9pm NewsRadio 1020 KDKA

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