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?
We previously spoke with Forgottonia native Dr. Trenton Ellis about job loss throughout rural America. In this interview Dr. Ellis mentioned factors like technology, globalization, and the lack of economic diversity as contributing to job loss. Since our talk with Dr. Ellis was so rich in material and we didn’t want to depress you by only discussing problems, we split our discussion in two parts. In this 2nd edition, we address plans of action and ask 2 essential questions; What can we do about factors impacting job loss and What interferes with progress in rural America?
While Dr. Ellis admits there’s no quick fix, the wisdom he offers comes not just from his academic background, but his personal experience growing up in rural America.
From January 2016 to January 2017, the region known as Forgottonia lost approximately 2,775 jobs. To learn why, we sat down with Dr. Trenton Ellis, a rural sociologist from Black Hills St. University. Although he lives in Spearfish, South Dakota, Ellis is a native of Forgottonia growing up in Canton, IL and graduating from Spoon River College in 2005. After SRC, Ellis completed undergraduate and master’s degrees from Western Illinois University in Macomb. In 2009 he matriculated to South Dakota State University’s Department of Sociology and Rural Studies where he graduated with a PhD in sociology in 2015. In 2016 he was awarded an outstanding Teaching Award at BHSU.
The following is an excerpt from our interview with Dr. Ellis.