Race, Slavery, Civil Rights, Reparations, Affirmative Action, Quotas, no matter how the issue is sliced, how the issue is communicated, everyone has an opinion on it. Some say that the founding fathers wanted to do away with slavery but caved to pressure. Some say that Lincoln wanted to get rid of slavery completely but he is also condemned for only freeing the slaves in the south with the emancipation proclamation.
Regardless, any opinions about race are certain to spark controversy, discussion and thought; and that is exactly why I wrote this specific article.
For over 150 years so called “Sundown Towns” have existed within America; a “sundown town” is one where either a sign existed outside the entrance to the city limits or it was common knowledge that being black and remaining in the town after dark was at best risky due to the expectation of harassment, or at worst it could be deadly.
Many of the “sun down towns” existed and still exist in the south, even in my home state of Texas. What will surprise many people is that there were and still is a large amount of “sundown towns” that exist in northern states.
In his book “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism” by Dr. James W. Loewen, the author reveals the unfortunate history of “sun down towns” in America. The book reveals that many northern states like Illinois have a historically large amount of “sundown towns” within their border.
Dr. Loewen himself grew up in Decatur, Illinois, he was a National Merit Scholar, and he has a Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard. He has taught race relations at the University of Vermont for over 20 years, he is a visiting Professor of Sociology at The Catholic University of America. Prior to that, he taught at Mississippi’s Tougaloo College, a historically black college. Should you want to review information on “sundown towns” a great link to use is http://www.uvm.edu/~jloewen/sundowntowns.php
On the site there is a map of the US and each state can be clicked on to reveal a list of suspected sundown downs or towns of interest for other reasons. For instance my home state of Texas has 35 locations on the list; contrast that with the state of Illinois which has over 150 locations on the list.
That’s right! my home state of Texas, a former confederate state, a state that has a history of slavery, a state with a history of racially motivated incidents prior to and after the civil rights movement, like the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in 1988, has 35 locations on the list. As shameful as it is to see Texas on the list, and it is shameful, what is even more surprising is the statistics concerning the state of Illinois.
The state called home by Chicago Mayor Daley, Rainbow Push Coalition founder and Democrat activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., the home state of Democrat Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the ever controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright, talk show host and actress Oprah Winfrey, Democrat US Senators Richard “Dick” Durbin, and Democrat Senator and Democrat Presidential candidate Barack Obama has over 150 “sun down towns” or cities of interest on the list.
Yet, Mayor Daley, Jesse Jackson, Jesse Jackson Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Dick Durbin”, Jeremiah Wright, Michelle and Barack Obama are constantly claiming the moral high ground when it comes to issues of race. In fact, it is often suggested that any questioning of Barack Obama’s record by the news media, Bloggers and conservatives is in itself a racist act.
How can the act of questioning the character, experience, political accomplishments, voting record, moral and political views of any person running for office be called a racist act, especially when the person is running for the highest office in the free world?
Care for more damning evidence, after reading Dr. James Loewen?s book I decided to dig a bit deeper and found that there are still locations within Illinois which are often referred to by their historically racist name, each of contain the “N word” in them. Upon doing a Google search I discovered multiple websites which disclose some of the location names as “N Ridge”, “N Point” (now called West Jersey), “N Hill” “N Hill Cemetery”, “N Creek” etc. We can’t prevent free speech even if it is based on racist views, in America everyone is entitled to their personal opinion.
With that said, what shocks me if how so many people from Illinois who are in the public eye daily are claiming the moral high ground and are pointing fingers at other states or people in America for maintaining racist views when they have not changed the hearts and minds of people in their own state of Illinois.
Upon the first signs of trouble involving Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama would not separate himself from the man, but after more pressure and once Barack was revealed to be a “typical politician” by Reverend Wright, Barack Obama finally was left with no choice but to distance himself for political necessity. After the entire incident was over and Barack Obama made a speech about race relations in America many in the media were pointing to Barack Obama as “the man to help cure racism in America.” I have to ask, how can that be true when in his own home state of Illinois still maintains a deep racial divide.
Based on the racial hate and anti-American Rhetoric spewed forth from Reverend Wright, the existence of so-called “sun down towns” in the state of Illinois and the fact that several locations are still referred to by their racially derogatory names, Illinois has a racial problem within its borders; Barack Obama apparently did little to nothing to change those facts as a state politician and as a US Senator he has still not used his position to improve race relations in his home state.
How then can he or anyone else I named in this article claim moral high ground when it comes to race relations; the answer is they can’t, and it is about time that someone brought this fact into focus and placed it under the microscope.