Madison County communities strive to overcome 'sundown town' reputation

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tags: racism, sundown town

Christopher Hayes felt the eyes on his back as he walked down Harrison Street toward the Alex Theatre with his white girlfriend and her children.

“Living in Alex and knowing I was the only black person in town wasn’t a comfortable situation,” he said. “It was different walking to the store and to the park and to the library.”

In 2011, when the black Indianapolis native moved to Madison County’s third-largest city to live with his girlfriend, he wasn’t aware that it could have a reputation as a “sundown town.” But he isn’t surprised.

Sundown towns, counties and suburbs are places where by law, by custom or by force it is understood that black people are not only unwelcome but possibly in physical danger if they stay past dusk. Many such towns, which reportedly included Alexandria and Elwood, are reputed to have once had signs at their city limits threatening something like “N—, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On You Here.”

One Indiana town, however, took an unprecedented step a little more than a year ago this month toward separating itself from its sundown past. Goshen’s city council on March 17, 2015, adopted a resolution acknowledging and apologizing for its past policy of exclusion.

Read entire article at The Herald Bulletin

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