James Loewen uncovers hidden racism in thousands of American “sundown towns” UMKC School of Education sponsors candid lecture on racism

Does racism look differently today than it did throughout American history – in 1890? Between 1890 and 1930? In 2005?

James W. Loewen, author of “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism,” will speak at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 12 at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium, 5100 Rockhill Road. A book signing will follow. The lecture is part of the School of Education’s annual Speaker Series.

According to Loewen, signs posted in cities from Maine to California warning minorities – particularly African Americans – read “… Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on you in ___.” The communities posting the signs were called “sundown towns,” and their messages were clear to those who were not wanted in the towns.

When Loewen began his research in 2001, he expected to find perhaps 50 sundown towns across the nation. Instead, he found thousands throughout the United States. Published in 2005 and named a Distinguished Book of 2005 by the Gustavus Myers Foundation, “Sundown Towns” discloses the methods used to keep towns “white on purpose.”

“The School of Education is pleased to bring James Loewen to Kansas City,” said Linda Edwards, dean of the School of Education. “His most recent research and his expertise regarding sundown towns shed light on local as well as national practices about which some may not be aware.”

Loewen is a former professor of race relations at the University of Vermont and the Tougaloo College in Mississippi, a predominantly African American university. He also is the author of numerous books, including the “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong” and “Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong.” Loewen has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights and employment cases.

The event is free and open to the public; however, reservations are required. RSVP to or call 816-235-2260 by Monday, March 9. For additional details, visit the School of Education Web site at

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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