We are all aware of the origins of the United States of America and how many ethnic groups were constricted to be slaves and seen as less than humans. Even when they were set free, the process to obtain present-day freedom was very slow. They still had to deal with racism, jim-crow laws, segregation, and other dangers. One of those dangers was sundown towns all over the country.

Sundown towns commonly referred to as sunset towns, gray towns, or sundowner towns heralded the term from signs that would direct colored people to leave town by the time the sun had set. This was during the time of segregation, so the laws were still being made on the fly. If a colored person was to be caught in a sundown town after duck then they could be arrested or worse. As mentioned before these sundown towns were all over the country, including Michigan, but are any of them still active?

After running across an interactive map referring to sundown town locations across America, I was intrigued by the amount of bubbles that were inside the Mitten state. Then there were rumors from other social media users explaining that they had seen signs and felt possible sundown town vibes in some of the cities labeled on the map across the U.S.

On the interactive map, Michigan had well over 50 towns labeled or flagged for their sundown history. Now, this doesn't mean that they all were sundown towns, but instead that they were able to find information to confirm or deny the claims. They labeled each city using the following metric with each category having a corresponding color:

  • Don't Know
  • Possible
  • Probable
  • Surely
  • Unlikely/Always Biracial
  • Black Town or Township

As you can see, there is a mix of town statuses in terms of being a sundown town or not across the state of Michigan. Although there may be some cities here that have the probable or surely tag, that's all in their history. There are no active sundown towns in Michigan but there may be some areas where colored individuals are less prominent which could lead to other interactions.

Are you surprised by the racial history of some of the towns across Michigan?

Sundown Towns of Oklahoma

Even long after the Civil War ended slavery, the deep-seated resentment and hatred of black Americans lived on. While we have thought of and been taught the concept of segregation was primarily a Southern US thing, the stakes were even higher across Texas and Oklahoma.

"Sundown Towns" were whites-only settlements where the local politics and laws served as a warning to (mainly) African Americans traveling through the area. While history has been whitewashed to make it seem less intense, lynching was a common practice toward those not welcome who remained in an Oklahoma Sundown Town after sunset. Only the settlements that still exist are listed below.

Gallery Credit: Kelso