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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.



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?
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld

Method of Exclusion

Main Ethnic Group(s)

Group(s) Excluded


The Detroit metro area has the highest level of
residential racial segregation in the county. Nearly
9 out of 10 black residents of the area live in
Detroit proper, Highland Park, Inkster, Pontiac, or
Southfield. The level of residential integration has
actually fallen since 1980.

Detroit is highly segregated even in contrast with
other metro areas with large black populations in
the central cities. 75% of Detroit metro area blacks
live in the city proper, compared with 22% in the
Atlanta metro area, 27% in the Washington, D.C.
metro area, and 60% in the Baltimore metro area.

After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850,
Detroit and other towns in Michigan became
frequently used stops on the Underground Railroad,
given the state’s proximity to Canada. Detroit
schools integrated in 1869. By the 20th century,
racial egalitarianism had faded in Michigan. Henry
Ford deliberately housed his workers in segregated
in segregated neighborhoods of Detroit and other
towns in the area and allowed blacks to do only the
most dangerous and physically demanding jobs in
his plants. In the 1920s, Michigan had more Ku
Klux Klan members than any other state. The peak
membership was about 875,000.

In the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections,
segregationist George Wallace won every white
ward in the Detroit area. He also won the state’s
Democratic primary, with 51% of the vote.

In the 1970s, Detroit lost a $500 million grant for
public transit development, because the suburbs
refused to cooperate.

In 2006, the National Fair Housing Alliance
conducted extensive tests to determine if Detroit
area realtors were steering home buyers based on
race. 145 pairs, consisting of one white and one
non-white pair, attempted to buy homes through
73 real estate offices in 12 areas of the metro. As
reported in the Detroit Free Press, the study
concluded that 87% of the pairs were steered. White
testers attempting to move into interracial
neighborhoods were told the schools were bad, but
black or Latino pairs were told the same school
were good. Non-white testers were shown less
homes than white testers.
In each case, the black or Latino testers had a
higher income, lower debt, and more money for a
down payment. Despite this, many were denied
service outright, and others were asked to provide a
pre-approval letter from a financial institution or
other financial information. White testers were not
asked for this information.
One couple, who was not a part of the test but was
featured in the Detroit Free Press article about the
study, reported that their real estate agent
repeatedly refused to show them houses in the
exclusive Grosse Pointes and instead urged them to
move to interracial Harper Woods.