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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Cedar Key


Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Don’t Know
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?
Probably Not, Although Still Very Few Black People

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1900 739
1910 864
1920 695 6
1930 1066 179
1940 668 0
2000 790 1

Method of Exclusion

  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


In 1923, the residents of Cedar Key burned the
nearby black town of Rosewood, killing several
inhabitants and running the rest out. This incident was
portrayed in the 1997 John Singleton film Rosewood.

As there is a significant drop in black population
between 1930 and 1940, Cedar Key may have also run
out its own black population during that time.

A St. Petersburg Times reporter who found himself
in Cedar Key in 1982 “became intrigued by the fact
that there was not one black face to be seen in Cedar
Key %u2014 this in a town whose population had been
third black at the turn of the century. It was black
labor that had laid the tracks through the swamp into
Cedar Key, and many of those men had chosen to
stay. At the turn of the century, there had been a black
shcool in Cedar Key. Black churches, too. And now
there was nothing.” Folks pointed to “Nigger Hill,”
formerly the black neighborhood of town. “But no one
would say where the ‘niggers’ had gone, not until one
woman finally mentioned ‘the massacre.'” A Cedar Key
fisherman who had participated in the riot said they
“buried 17 niggers out of the house. I don’t know how
many more they picked out of the woods and the
fields ’round about there. It was stated several times
that there were ten more.”

“When I was growing up over in Cedar Key, we didn’t
know what a nigger was.”
-1995 interview with former Cedar Key resident

Cedar Key had a faded sundown sign near the dock
in 1967. In 1967, Black Peace Corps members
couldn’t stay in some nearby motels.