The much talked about HBO series Lovecraft Country has hit audiences with a mixture of “Jim Crow” and science fiction. The show, executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams and starring Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors hit home for Black viewers especially because of “Sundown Towns.” For those who don’t know, those are the type of towns you don’t want to be in once, you guessed it, the sun goes down in fear of their life because of the color of their skin.
According to Wikipedia, Sundown towns, also known as sunset towns, gray towns, or sundowner towns, are all-white cities or neighborhoods in the United States that practice a form of racial segregation. The term came from signs posted that “colored people” had to leave town by sundown. If you think that these types of towns were relegated to the south, you would be wrong. States in the north had areas who were just has inhospitable to people of color as the south. In fact, in 1844, Oregon (before it became a state) banned black people altogether.
Victor Hugh Green created The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual guidebook for African-Americans with directories of hotels, camps, roadhouses, and restaurants that would serve people of color during road trips. The booming motor industry enabled blacks to travel without the use of public transportation however it didn’t restrict them from the dangers of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. If you were Black and you were hitting the interstate, this book was a life-saver.
If you are wondering if there were Sundown Towns in the DMV, well… According to Sundown..Tougaloo.edu, Maryland Sundown Towns reportedly were:
Virginia Sundown Towns reportedly include:
So while in Lovecraft Country, the dangers of Sundown towns were monsters of the sci-fi kind, the towns after the reconstruction period through the Civil Rights period included the horror of racism.