These past few weeks, we’ve been learning about sundown towns and the impact they’ve had on rural America today (Check out the links below). We were stunned to learn that our informed expert Dr. James Loewen (author of Sundown Towns & Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong”) spent many hours conducting research for his book right here in Forgottonia. Although Dr. Loewen lives on the east coast and conducted research throughout the country, a large portion of his work focused on his home state of Illinois; including the communities of western Illinois, collectively known as Forgottonia. Dr. Loewen poured over census records, studied maps, and visited with local historians, librarians, and anyone else willing to speak to him. We recommend you get a hold of the book to read for yourself. We’d also encourage you to check out the sundown town database on Loewen’s own website linked here – Loewen’s website – Sundown Towns Database.
As mentioned in our podcast interview, Dr. James Loewen didn’t just write a book about sundown towns, he wrote THE book. He did a lot of research in small towns–especially in Illinois–which has enabled us to learn a lot about our own communities. (By the way, if you haven’t already, Loewen has a massive database on his website you should check out by following this link – Loewen’s website – Sundown Towns Database). But of all the questions we’ve asked, one stands out as most important; why does all this matter? As we lean into this question, three overall themes come to mind that address why this research matters.
When Dr. James Loewen decided he was going to research sundown towns, he figured he might find about 50 or so of these communities spread across the country. To his surprise, he claimed to uncover more than 500, and that was just in his home state of Illinois! He estimates that at its peak in 1970 there were approximately 10,000 sundown towns throughout the country. So what exactly are sundown towns?
On the first episode of our second season, we were extremely fortunate to interview Dr. James Loewen about his book “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism.” We asked the essential question: What are Sundown Towns?
Dr. Loewen is a talented author, historian, and sociologist. He is best known for his 1995 book, “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” (Reprinted in 2009). In 2005, Loewen published “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism” which focuses on communities throughout American where African Americans, Jews, and other minorities were forced or strongly encouraged to leave town prior to the sun setting. An Illinois native hailing from Decatur, Dr. Loewen earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. He has taught at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, the University of Vermont, and the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.
On Wednesday May 2, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Tim Kasser to Cuba, IL to share his presentation titled “Media and Children’s Well-Being” (The first 30 minutes are Tim’s talk while the last 20 minutes Tim answers some questions from the audience). This presentation was part of our Screen Free Week Activities that took place in our community (April 30 – May 4).
After receiving his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Rochester, Tim Kasser accepted a position at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he is currently Professor & Chair of Psychology. He has written over 100 scientific articles and book chapters on materialism, values, goals, ecological sustainability, and quality of life, among other topics. He is also the author of five books, including The High Price of Materialism (MIT Press, 2002) and the cartoon book HyperCapitalism (The New Pres, 2018). Tim spends a good deal of his time working with activist groups that protect children from commercialization, that promote ecological sustainability, and that encourage a more “inwardly rich” lifestyle than what is offered by consumerism. Tim lives with his wife, two sons, and assorted animals a few miles south of Knoxville, Illinois. And his work has been a big inspiration for why we wanted to participate in Screen Free Week activities this week.
On Wednesday May 2, 2018 we enjoyed a conversation with students about their experience using technology. This event was part of our week-long Screen Free Week experiences at Cuba High School. Our panel consisted of about a dozen students in Cuba High School’s Sociology class. The panel was moderated by Mr. Joe Brewer.
On Sunday April 30 from 2-2:30 PM the Canton area YWCA led by Executive Director Brooke Denniston held a ¨Stand Against Racism¨ rally at Jones Park in Canton, IL. Please visit the links below for more information (Photo taken from YWCA logo)