On the heels of next week's inauguration of the nation's first African-American president, Principia College
is inviting author James Loewen
and residents of Elsah, Illinois
, to discuss the city's old "sun down" laws.
As Loewen documented in his 2005 book Sundown Towns
, Elsah -- home to Principia College and located just north of Alton -- was one of thousands of cities across America that required blacks to leave city limits by dusk.
"When I began this research, I expected to find about ten sundown towns in Illinois and perhaps 50 across the country. Instead, I have found more than 440 in Illinois and thousands across the United States," says Loewen.
In the 1930s Principia College complied with Elsah's sun-down rule by purchasing a station wagon so black employees could commute nightly to their homes in St. Louis.
You can view a database of confirmed (and suspected) sun-down cities in the U.S. here
. Loewen's conversation will be held January 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the school's Wanamaker Hall.
I wonder: Is that what Elton John
has been singing about
this whole time?