Home » Michigan » Dearborn

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

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



Basic Information

Type of Place
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Unions, Organized Labor?

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Yes, Strong Oral Tradition
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 840
1910 911
1920 2,470 1
1930 50,358 43
1940 35
1990 82,286 494
2000 97,775 1,248 425

Method of Exclusion

  • Police or Other Official Action
  • Reputation

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black
  • Jewish


Orville Hubbard, former mayor of Dearborn, was vocal and well-known in his successful attempts to keep Dearborn “clean”, meaning “white”. In a 1956 interview with an Alabama newspaper Hubbard stated “They can’t get in here. Every time we hear of a Negro moving in… we respond quicker than you do to a fire.” A 1956 US News & World Report article reported that the city shut off the gas of a black man who moved to Dearborn and refused to collect his garbage.

Blacks were allowed to reside in Dearborn as live-in domestic workers, but not as independent
households. Dearborn’s black population through 1970 is mostly female.

In the mid 1960s, the NAACP staged a series of fair housing marches in suburban Detroit, with the first march taking place in Dearborn. Marchers were pelted
with rotten eggs and rocks and called numerous racial slurs.

In 1985, Dearborn passed an ordinace limiting use of the public parks to Dearborn residents only. This was widely seen as a measure to keep the parks all white.

“When Dearborn came out with the resident only law I was perturbed. I didn’t live in Detroit nor am I an African American. Everyone knew what the rule really meant though.”I came home from work one evening and caught the mayor of Dearborn on TV reading a statement as too what the ordinance meant. He said the rule was not made to keep blacks nor just the people of Detroit
out. That the rule was not discriminatory but was also made to keep people of other cities out also like people from ‘Taylor’.”He said Taylor specifically and solely. Which did really upset me. I’m from Taylor… Taylor is a working class neighborhood. It does have an African American population but largely is a white city. It is made up of mostly small home once called starter homes. It does have Federally subsidized apartments… I believe this is the reason Dearborn wished to keep us out of their parks.”
-former Taylor, MI, resident

Dearborn now has a large Arab American population.

A resident of Redford, MI emailed us: “In the early 1990s when I was still school aged and before the recent influx of Middle Eastern immigrants, we were constantly followed by police from the Southfield Freeway all the way to Fairlane Mall and back out of the city. For a city with a small number of African-American residents, the number of black people pulled over in Dearborn was at least as high as the number of other people. In the last 10 years, traffic stops appear to be much more consistent with the population of the city. I don’t feel nearly as singled out, and as a result, feel more comfortable dining and shopping in Dearborn now than 20-25 years ago.”

Dearborn enlisted the help of the Fair Housing Center (FHC) in Detroit to attempt to make its housing practices more equitable. It had eight racial discrimination housing lawsuits in 2005-2006.